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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Maharashtra education department to use mobile apps to track school dropouts due to Covid-19

Tata Trust and UNICEF have come forward with mobile apps and a pilot has been rolled out in a few education blocks.

Written by Alifiya Khan | Pune |
Updated: September 13, 2021 11:47:34 pm
Maharashtra education department, UNICEF, Tata Trust, Maharashtra school drop-outs, Maharashtra drop-out rate, School drop-outs due to Covid, Maharashtra Government, indian express, indian express news, current affairs, Maharashtra newsAfter a failed attempt in March when the state government conducted a survey that was criticised as "severely flawed" by many education experts, the education department will now take the help of mobile apps to track school dropouts due to the pandemic. (Representational)

In order to track school students who have fallen behind due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant shift to online education, the state education department has decided to roll out a couple of mobile apps.

State education commissioner Vishal Solanki confirmed that two organisations — Tata Trust and UNICEF — have come forward with mobile apps. “A pilot has been conducted of one of the apps in a few blocks by the block education officer and teachers, and early feedback has been encouraging. The pilot is being done to iron out any minor issues before rolling it out across the state,” he said.

Even as a number of surveys conducted by researchers and private NGOs have pointed towards the problem of a large number of children falling out of the education system due to the pandemic, a comprehensive state-wide survey in Maharashtra is yet to be successfully carried out in this regard.

Recently, a report was released by a group of economists who conducted a study in 15 states, including Maharashtra. The report pointed out that the pandemic-induced school closures have resulted in “catastrophic consequences” for students, especially for those in rural areas, with a mere eight per cent studying regularly online and 37 per cent not studying at all. Plus, the financial stress caused by the pandemic has resulted in an exodus from private schools.

While educationists have been pointing out the danger of children falling completely out of the system due to the school closures and the move to online education, which many students, especially from economically weaker sections, may not have access to, no comprehensive study has been carried out by the state education system to track the actual number of students in and out of school.

In March this year, an attempt was made to conduct a survey but three districts did not submit any data citing lockdown due to Covid as a reason for their inability to conduct the survey. In the rest of the 33 districts, only about 25,000 students were found to be out of school or have never gone to school owing to their inability to attend online classes due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The figure was panned by several education experts who termed them extremely unrealistic even as they criticised the “flawed method” for data collection.

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