Dr. Jyotsna Jha was invited as a panelist to a webinar titled, ‘COVID-19 and Girls’ Education’ organised by the RTE Forum on 14 May 2020. It was from 11.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The other panelists in this session were Prof. Namita Ranganathan (Delhi University) and Dr. Suman Sachdeva (Education Specialist, UNICEF). The session was moderated by Dr. Geeta Menon (Educationist).
The webinar reflected on how an emergency like that of the COVID-19 pandemic could impact girls’ education and also deliberated on various strategies to address the inequity in girls’ education during emergencies.
Panelists emphasised that girls are impacted adversely in such times, where girls face an asymmetry of care-work burden, lack accessibility of resources owing to gender differences and lack the private space to pursue education or even communication with peers. The likelihood of sexual abuse and violence during such crisis goes up and the research shows that likelihood of girls’ dropping out as well as child marriage goes up in such crises that triggers poverty and income – insecurity in the families.
Some of the strategies that were outlined by Jyotsna included:
1. Distance education should be low-tech and gender responsive
2. Community contact and education element must be factored in distance education
3. Teachers must be oriented to build relationships of trust with students including girls so that they must call upon them in case of any crisis being faced at home
4. Involve young individuals in mentoring and other support services that may be required locally to enable distance education
5. Chalk-out a post pandemic approach where the experiences of the most marginalised are also seen as resources for knowledge building rather than treating as those who were deprived and therefore get out of the ‘deficit model’ approach.
The poster for the webinar can be viewed here.
Jyotsna’s presentation at the webinar can be viewed here.