Children’s Right To Education: An Analysis In The Neu Normal Era, Special Reference To Rural India
Author: Priyadarshini Goenka Student, National Law University, Odisha
Introduction: Children’s Right To Education
Children’s Right to Education refers to both teaching and practice of their respective rights in various educational foundations that include various schools and programs as conversant and consistent with the United Nations Convention on Child Rights. Article 21A was inserted in the Indian Constitution with the help of The Constitution (Eighty-Sixth Amendment) Act, 2002. Article 21A of the Constitution of India deals with the Right to Education and it ensures that the State shall provide both free and compulsory education to all the children belonging to the age group between 6-14 years. Before the amendment, new dimensions were added to the fundamental right to life and personal liberty, and a child’s right to education are some of the added provisions that have ensured meaning to enable citizens to expand their vision to enforce the above as a fundamental right. In a recent case, Hon’ble Delhi HC banned any form of physical punishment prescribed for school children and issued directions to the respective state governments to ensure that students receive a quality education in an environment that promotes both freedom and dignity. 
COVID-19 And Children’s Rights
The overall impact of the Covid pandemic on education has been critical. UNESCO has estimated that the ongoing pandemic has affected 90% of students which is around 1.54 billion learners out of school in around 185 countries. It has been reported that about 1.5 billion children residing in 188 countries are out of school already. It has amounted to a crisis that has formulated limited or no access in the field of education or lagging behind the other children. Such a situation fails to retain the stability and normalcy that normal schooling provides. Most children coming from poor communities are mostly dependent on schools for either meal, health services, and information. It has been estimated that 310 million children have been dependent on daily schooling for getting a meal each day including 100 million present in India, 48 million in Brazil, 9 million in Nigeria and South Africa. Furthermore, the Convention has recommended the countries to adopt diverse resolutions like high, low, and no-tech to help assist the overall learning process. The latest technological era has been focusing on online teaching. However, many public schools aren’t ready to use the same facility or have no access to the internet. In most cases, schools don’t have in-built technological skills or required equipment to run online classes. Once the situation settles down and governments can reopen schools, specialized steps would be ensured to all students specifically adolescent females who are placed at a greater risk of being forced into child marriage and child labor, would eventually get back to their normal schooling schedules.
How did Rural Indians Learn During Lockdown?
The nationwide closure of schools has resulted in 24 percent of households having a stable internet facility. Children studying in governmental schools are among the worst sufferers. A recent study has represented in vision 80 percent of schools and more in major states like Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Uttar Pradesh haven’t acknowledged the basic educational materials being exposed to the pandemic.
20 percent of the children belonging to rural areas have no textbooks at home
28 percent of the children haven’t received any form of assistance in the field of education
66 percent haven’t received any further instructions from the school
Only 11 percent were able to attend online classes.
Around 20 percent of India’s rural children have no access to textbooks at home, a survey conducted by (ASER) Annual State of Education Report in September. In a state like Andhra Pradesh, less than 35% of children only had textbooks and only 60% had the same in Rajasthan. During the survey, it was assessed that only one in every three children living in rural areas had no connection with learning. Around two in three had no access to essential materials or activities prescribed by their school that week, and lastly, only one in every ten had access to online classes. It was also calculated that 5.3% of rural children who belong to the age group between 6-10 years haven’t enrolled in an institute whereas in 2018 the count was only 1.85 which hereby signifies that many families are still in the hope of reopening schools to enroll their children.
The prime indicators reflected by Household Social Consumption on similar educational levels initiated in 2017-18 by NSSO had estimated 15% of households operating in the periphery of rural standards were denied access to the internet thereafter, opposed to 42% in the urban households. The overall availability of electricity is one of the significant challenges that takes its toll on children. In one of its recent surveys conducted between 2017-18, the Ministry of Rural Development identified 47% of households collected 12 hours of electricity and an increase of 36% of schools function without such facilities which mean wealthy families can bridge the technological gap and have access to better remote learning, students from underprivileged families find it a tough time to stand at par. Technical infrastructure and irregular connectivity across our country pose a big challenge for both the students and their teachers.
Impact On Education System With Reference To Teachers
At the grassroots level, teachers and students have faced struggles during online classes. In such a scenario wherein schools have been facing issues like lack of basic facilities, external disturbances, and frequent interruptions by their family members, educational institutions require a budget that plays a crucial role to address unconventional technologies, absence of extensive training, technical support, and deficiency of both clarity and direction. Teachers are in a vulnerable position to face such difficulties. At the same time, the biggest disadvantage is that exams are being postponed. Examinations cannot be conducted in online mode. The immediate need to develop a purposeful and well-defined academic curriculum supports both the mentor and beginner thereby ensuring suitable timing and promotion of an effective e-learning milieu. Relevant use of advanced technology can make available a robust alternative in the education scenario, mitigation and compensation have caused further inconvenience due to the covid pandemic. 
Rural India: The Key To Propel The Education System In India
The disruption caused by covid-19 has adversely affected most of the rural areas in India wherein children are not in a position to cope with the normal situation being exposed to inadequate digital infrastructural support. There is a need to aim at the holistic solution that would help promote quality education at the basic level. The prevailing education arrangement especially in rural corners of India catalyzes to help improve the economic and social welfare of the nation.
The ASER (Annual State of Education Report) stated that only 16 % of children studying in the rural districts of our country can read the required text at the arranged level whereas 40 % cannot even identify letters. They even highlighted that about two-thirds of children residing in rural India aren’t receiving the appropriate materials amidst the pandemic. Positive changes in the educational sector help an individual to actively participate in the economic and cultural sphere of their communities.
The novel coronavirus has adversely affected the educational sector in the country which has brought forward several challenges thereby making it difficult for children and teachers to sustain themselves in the difficult situation. Our country isn’t equipped enough to spread the importance of education across all spheres through digital podiums. Children belonging to poor families are the most vulnerable to the negative impact of online learning. They aren’t privileged enough to receive its benefits compared to the ones who are financially stable. The immediate need ensures relevant steps that would strengthen such institutions with the required information and technological infrastructure equipped to overcome the pandemic situation. We are already prepared with the fact that Covid-crisis might strengthen further, which raises an urgency to take in efforts for the complete application of online podiums. Hence, our country should adopt a strategic method that provides sustainable access to learning during such difficult times. A detailed statistical procedure would explore the impact of the educational system present in the Covid-19 pandemic. 
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