Centre mulls remedial steps for 50,000 panchayats, 84 reserved MP seats

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SynopsisSpecial resources and focus are set to be centred on 50,000 gram panchayats and 84 reserved parliamentary constituencies, especially areas with high Scheduled Caste population, to address the learning loss issue.Waking up to the problem of serious learning gaps and digital divide that have adversely impacted children from socially and economically disadvantaged groups (SEDGs) revealed…

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Synopsis

Special resources and focus are set to be centred on 50,000 gram panchayats and 84 reserved parliamentary constituencies, especially areas with high Scheduled Caste population, to address the learning loss issue.

Waking up to the problem of serious learning gaps and digital divide that have adversely impacted children from socially and economically disadvantaged groups (SEDGs) revealed by the pandemic, the Centre is mulling a series of measures to ‘saturate’ backward areas with digital e-learning facilities and remedial mentoring.

Special resources and focus are set to be centred on 50,000 gram panchayats and 84 reserved parliamentary constituencies, especially areas with high Scheduled Caste population, to address the learning loss issue.

ET has learnt that high-level inter-ministerial meetings have been held over the last few days to finalise an action plan towards mitigation of school-level learning loss.

The issue was also flagged off as a key action point at the prime minister’s meeting with secretaries to all Union ministries and departments on September 18. The cabinet secretary recently sent in a reminder about it to all stakeholder departments.

In the works are ‘digital libraries’ at panchayat level, digital devices for SEDG children, mentoring and remedial teaching programs, ICT laboratories in residential hostels for SEDG children and more.

It has also been agreed to assess available facilities in the 84 reserved parliamentary constituencies and come up with a concrete plan for addressing gaps in the education system. Opening new Navodaya Vidyalayas or adding more seats in existing adjacent Navodaya schools were also discussed.

About 50,000 gram panchayats are already being identified for extra focus, nearly 30,000 will be from the PM Adarsh Gram Yojana and the others will be those with over 40% SC population. The issue was discussed in detail at a September 30 inter-ministerial meeting involving the ministry of education, the department of school education and literacy and the National Council for Education, Research and Training (NCERT), ET gathers.

It is estimated that over 35 lakh children are out of school as on date, lakhs across states have struggled with learning in the absence of devices and learning loss is a pervasive problem, but the impact is worrying in rural areas with greater concentration of SEDGs.

It was agreed that the Department of Panchayati Raj and Social Justice & Empowerment should identify 50,000 backward area panchayats and ‘saturate’ them with facilities – ICT in schools, a digital library each as well as devices so that e-content and online resources are easily available.

The telecom department is to be roped in to ensure Bharat net broadband connections to the learning centres at each of these gram panchayats, to cater to the educational needs of the children here.

New Edutech apps that can facilitate learning and bridging the learning gap are to be identified as much as bringing back of face-to-face mentoring.

A joint governmental effort towards Vidyanjali 2.0 – to mentor and directly assist children through volunteers – is also planned.

Remedial coaching is specifically planned for children with no access to digital devices—a number running into several lakhs, as per last central data assessment.

The Samagra Shiksha scheme of the education ministry is expected to step in with ‘remedial coaching’ provisions for 20% of the weakest children from the SEDG category.

The scheme will also address out-of-school children in the 16-19 years age group with assistance to complete their secondary/senior secondary levels. The Department of Social Justice and Empowerment plans to cater to Scheduled Caste children with digital devices.

The department is also likely to step in with funding for ICT laboratories in residential hostels.

( Originally published on Oct 12, 2021 )

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