Coronavirus had put the entire world at a halt. One of the most disruptive influences of the Covid-19 period is the long-term school closures. They have thrown the lives of children and their families into disarray, and instructors have been pushed to figure out how to provide distance learning. Non-academic aids such as health and mental health services, food aids, and interventions in homelessness and starvation are also available via schools. This focuses on the physical and psychological impact of school closures and the loss of non-academic resources on which young children rely.
Given the safety of public health, India declared a nationwide lockdown. Among the many consequences of lockdown, the closure of schools has had a great impact on children and their education. The prolonged closure of schools has a social and economic impact on the people across various communities. The effect is severe, especially on the most vulnerable children.
Around 1.5 million schools have been closed to lockdown in India. This has affected the lives of nearly 247 million children in the country. There is widespread concern about children’ academic performance regressing as a result of Covid-19 school closures. Apart from education, school is also a source of non-educational support in terms of food assistance.
In government schools, children are provided with mid-day meals, and this also provides relief to parents of these children because most of them do not earn enough to manage a meal for their family. The government’s emphasis on compulsory primary education for all children has reduced the number of child labourers. However, the closure of schools has disrupted this balance.
Isolation of children and teens without social support from peers and staff, loss of school inputs into the provision of health and social care, access to mental health assistance, reduction in physical activity associated with attending school, and loss of access to school food programmes for impoverished children are all processes via which school closures negatively affect children’s health and wellbeing.
Around 120 million children have enrolled in mid-day meal schemes. However, due to lockdown, several states had to put a halt to this scheme. As a result, thousands of children lost their access to at least one meal per day. The mid-day meal acted as a crucial driving force for children from marginalized sections of society to go to school.
During the lockdown, children living in slum areas suffered from starvation for days because their family cannot afford even one meal per day. Certain schools also provide children with provisions such as sanitary products. These are essential services for adolescent girls living in rural areas who face the issue of improper menstrual hygiene. Due to lockdown, girls have resorted to unhygienic methods of using clothes during menstruation, putting their menstrual hygiene at risk.
Due to lockdown, online education is the only option for students. According to a UNICEF report, only 24% of households have access to internet connection across the country. Due to the lack of internet access in most rural areas, students are compelled to drop out of school. The number of school dropouts has increased due to coronavirus, and the education of children is in threat.
Providing meals to children remains one of the most consistent efforts by schools, and with the help of NGO 1 Million Meals, the issue has been addressed and solved successfully. It is a Covid relief initiative taken by Apne Aap Worldwide, founded by Ms Ruchira Gupta.
By eliminating malnutrition, 1 Million Meals assures the survival of children and women through the Covid-19 lockdown and beyond. It also assures to provide computer and internet to children which is the basic need for a new level of education. The NGO continued to distribute meals at that rate that can satisfy the needs of orphans and needy children during the pandemic.
To date, they have supplied a total of 62,731 ration kits, and 253,200 sanitary pads are supplied to families and orphan children in India. The community mobilizers of the NGO have still not taken a break. They have persistently served the people in need while the second wave of Covid hit the country.
To conclude, education is one of the most powerful predictors of health, and its disruption has a variety of effects on care and support. There is strong evidence that lack of education correlates to long-term health and life expectancy decreases. Schools have always supplied significant non-academic services and support that help students overcome obstacles to learning. And also, by taking help from NGOs to serve meal kits, they have considered the wellbeing of poor children. This way, 1 Million meals is ongoing with the mission to serve the needy children and women.