My future is at stake.
This second wave of the pandemic has left people struggling for food, struggling to get medicines and oxygen. Family income is hanging by a thread but most importantly, any hope for education is lost.
How will we ever recover from this?
My name is Nisha* and I was forced to work until I was nine. I only learnt the word "school" after half of my school life was over. I have been working for years with organisations like Save the Children to ensure that girls from slum areas in Delhi are enrolled into school, get the books they need and extra help in studies so they are really learning. But now, it seems even those efforts are at stake.
Girls are always seen as weak or a burden, they are the first ones pushed into work, sold to the highest bidder or married to the cheapest. I have seen some of that first hand, in my own life.
Our government needs to give special attention to this silent pandemic, one where girls like me are lost to the worst possible lives. A life without education for a girl is a life without any rights. My dream is to see girls take strides towards their futures. This is slowly becoming a distant dream. Will you help me hold on to it? Will you #AllyUpForHer and help #SaveOurEducation?
Nisha*, 18 years, New Delhi.
10 million girls are at risk of never returning to school. The effects of COVID-19 crisis has put the promise of ‘education for all’ into jeopardy, casting a long shadow on their future.
While school closures are an effective precautionary measure to contain the spread of COVID-19, evidence from previous emergencies suggest that the longer children are unable to attend learning facilities, the more likely it is they will never return to school. The risk of children dropping out-of-school applies especially for girls and the most marginalized including children of migrant families
As the Minister for Education, we urge you to consider the below recommendations from Save the Children so all children, especially girls, continue to learn.
1. Ensure learning continuity through equitable access to teaching learning materials for vulnerable children with special focus on girls including development of low-tech and no-tech solutions.
2. Ensure psychosocial wellbeing support to combat the impact of COVID-19 for children, parents, caregivers and educational personnel.
3. Ensure uninterrupted provision of safe and nutritious food for all children (Mid-Day Meal) during closure of educational facilities.
4. Ensure dedicated financial support to ensure continuity of learning of children who have lost both or one of their parents due to COVID-19.
5. Increase in union and state education budgets to ensure that all children have access to quality, inclusive education equitable education and build back equitable, more inclusive and resilient education systems.
6. Ensure teachers, Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) and helpers well-being especially those personally affected by COVID-19, limit their role to teaching/academic work and prioritize their vaccination.
7. Minimize use of schools and educational institutions for any public health interventions (including use of schools for medical use or COVID-19 vaccination centers) to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Nisha's words echo our asks and it is our collective responsibility to #AllyUpForHer. India must ensure that girls are brought back to school or we are at risk of losing an entire generation of learners to the pandemic.