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Closure Of Schools Due To Lockdown Had More Consequences Than Just Education

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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.

india village
Representative image

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.

 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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