New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: In observance of the Children’s Day in India on November 14 and leading up to the World Children’s Day on November 20, UNICEF India unveiled a symbolic ‘Pandemic Classroom’ installation at the amphitheatre at Select CITYWALK in Saket, New Delhi.

Empty rows of desks and chairs along with unused backpacks were set up to draw urgent attention to the plight of millions of young children who missed going to school for over a year due to the school closures through the pandemic and have consequently experienced learning loss.

The pandemic classroom installation will be on display for a week from 14 November (India’s Children Day) till 20 November 2021 (World Children’s Day). The week-long installation was inaugurated by Mr. Yasumasa Kimura, UNICEF India Representative and two adolescents. Noted educationist, Dr. Venita Kaul, Professor Emeritus, Early Childhood Education, Ambedkar University is invited as a speaker.

The pandemic that started off as a health crisis had fast turned into a learning crisis with prolonged school closure – a major fallout of the pandemic. This had detrimental effect not only education but also on children’s physical and psychological wellbeing.

According to UNICEF’s rapid assessment conducted in six states in 2020 – Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh, 76 per cent of parents of children between the ages of 5-13 years, and 80 per cent of adolescents between 14-18 years, reported learning less compared to when they were going to school.

Through pandemic waves since last year, most schools closed and re-opened several times. Consequently nearly 247 million children could not go to school for more than a year. Approximately 1.5 million schools and 1.4 million ECD/Anganwadi centres were closed during this period. Millions of children also missed out on a hot cooked midday meal (school meal), which for many was the most nutritious meal of the day.

Highlighting the importance of the socio-emotional state with which children especially the younger classes, pre-primary and primary will come to school, Professor Venita Kaul said, “Many children, especially the youngest, have not had any exposure to a school and need the opportunity to start from scratch. Others may have lost out not only on skills they may have learnt but more importantly on the disposition and habits important for school learning, such as focusing on a given task, sitting at the desk for the required number of hours and building new relationships. By giving children tasks related to the skills to be learnt, not necessarily out of textbooks but out of their own home experiences, we can help children emotionally ‘get back’ to school and to begin enjoying and making sense of what they are learning.”

Posted By: Sugandha Jha