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Teachers fear drop out after lockdown lifts

Survival might replace education
In rural areas, getting children to school means convincing their parents, who would rather send their wards to work than send them to classes. As for daughters, getting them married would mean having one mouth less to feed.

Jhinuk Mazumdar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 09.05.20, 10:02 PM

Students will drop out of schools in rural Bengal in large numbers after the lockdown is over and classes resume, the heads of many schools in the districts fear.

Boys might be sent to work and girls married off, and teachers will again have to start from scratch to get students back to school.

In rural areas, getting children to school means convincing their parents, who would rather send their wards to work than send them to classes. As for daughters, getting them married would mean having one mouth less to feed.

The lockdown has impacted the livelihood in many homes who are living on aid or have barely any food. Whenever normal life resumes, survival and not education will be their priority, a headmaster told Metro.

In many homes, fathers work as masons outside the state, do fishing or till other people's land. Mothers mostly roll bidis at home.

“They will think about how and from where they will get their daily food. To study and stand on their own feet and have a career is something they won’t be able to spare a thought to when they will fight for survival,” said Murshida Khatun, the headmistress of Debkunda Sk Abdur Razzak Memorial Girls High Madarsah in Murshidabad's Beldanga block.

Khatun said the long break from school because of Covid-19 would be a “life-long loss for many students”.

“The session starts in January and these are important months for us, when a large portion of the syllabus is covered. We worked hard to get these girls to school. The long gap from school will undo a lot of that,” said Khatun.

Most students of urban schools are being pushed by their parents to attend online classes. In contrast, in most village schools, barely 10 to 30 per cent of the students are able to attend online classes.

They either do not have smartphones or do not have the money to recharge phones.

“They are silently preparing to get the girls married in families whose financial condition is better than their own. Around 70 per cent of our students are detached from studies and there could be a drop out of about 40 per cent. Education will be secondary for them with an increase in unemployment,” said Chandan Maity, the headmaster of Krishnachandrapur High School in the Mathurapur constituency in South 24-Parganas.

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