A survey conducted by the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and UNICEF Gujarat revealed that among households which had children enrolled in government schools, 85 per cent of the parents reported that they were not able to access anything in lieu of mid-day meals since March, when schools were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The survey was conducted among 375 low-income parents residing in urban Ahmedabad between July to September, of which nearly 31 per cent had children attending government schools..
The study conducted by KMIC-Knowledge Management and innovations for Change-an IIMA and UNICEF initiative launched in 2015 authored by IIMA’s faculty member Prof Ankur Sarin along with research associates, to understand accessibility to remote learning and challenges faced by students and their parents, revealed that about 15 per cent of parents received rice, wheat and/or pulses in lieu of midday meals.
Further, around 30 per cent of the children had not engaged in any formal learning activities since March 2020. This was highest for those attending private schools (33 per cent), followed by government schools (26 per cent), and those attending private schools through the RTE mandate (22 per cent).
The average income of the sample was around Rs 1,990 per month and more than 95 per cent of the households had monthly income less than Rs 4,400.
Despite the state government’s notices on temporary fee relief, around 54 per cent of parents had been asked to pay fees during the months of the lockdown.
Over 40 per cent of parents with children in private schools were unaware of fee relief. Among those asked to pay the fee, more than 50 per cent admitted that it was difficult for them to arrange the required amount and meet the payment deadline.
Another major concern revealed in the report was pertaining to drop-outs. As inability to pay the fee has led some parents to consider alternate options of transfers to other schools or even dropping their children out of school for the year.
Only 54 per cent of respondents said that they have a functioning television with cable/DTH (direct-to-home digital service) . Less than 2 per cent had access to a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection and email was used by less than 12 per cent of respondents.