EDUCATION IN CRISIS: An important conversation with Kayoko Mitsumatsu of Yoga Gives Back and NGO Partner Prajna Neelgund, of Deenabandhu Trust in Karnataka, India

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The closure of india’s government schools for 18 months has led to learning loss and increased child marriage, child labor, child-trafficking, social delays and more.

Millions of children in India have been out of school for the last 18 months due to Covid-19.  This is especially devastating for poor children that attend government schools and don’t have access to online education. An article in the East Asia Forum by Monika Chaudhary highlights the regression of progress for girls education in India which had made great strides as of 2018. “The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging the critical progress that has been achieved. Up to 10 million girls are at risk of dropping out of secondary school due to the pandemic.” Chaudhary continues “Girls are at greater risk of being deprived of their education as they are pushed towards paid and unpaid labor as well as child marriage in times of crisis. It is likely that many adolescent girls who stop going to school during the pandemic will never return.”

YGB’s founder Kayoko talked to NGO Partner Prajna Neelgund, of Deenabandhu Trust in Karnataka about this crisis.  Prajna shared the devastating impact of school closures on the local underserved children, beginning with the basics of losing access to nutritious school meals, and a secure place during the day, not to mention loss of basic reading, writing, math and social skills.  Prajna shared a study of 2nd – 6th grade in 5 states that found that 93% of children lost some basic reading and writing skills and 88% lost math skills. “They have forgotten what they have already learned.  It’s a regression.  Forget about learning something new.  If this is not remedied, the achievement gap between the rich and poor children will widen even more” says Prajna.

Prajna’s concerns for the children in her region echo those of Chaundhary and reveal the most dangerous aspects of children being out of school: increases in child marriage, child labor, alcoholism, and child trafficking.   Keeping children and girls in school is critical for so many reasons and we must take action now so that we don’t lose progress and momentum.  As Chaundhary explains “numerous studies have demonstrated that GDP increases with female education. A reversal of India’s progress will bring long-term adverse developmental impacts unless greater action is taken.”

So what can be done?

Prajna being in touch with the teachers, children and parents believes we need to support the teachers so they can gather in community with proper support and learn new skills to help the children “mend the learning loss”.  Also, we must motivate the families to send the children, especially the girls, back to school, now that they may have begun to contribute to the needs of the household again.  Watch the entire conversation with Prajna on Instagram Live.

Chaudhary also believes teachers must be prepared to play a pivotal role in influencing parents to send their children and girls back to school and also believes that efforts to improve access to online education for girls, especially in rural areas, is a critical next step.  Read the full article by Chaudhary in East Asia Forum.

Through the Sister Aid Program, Yoga Gives Back currently supports more than 500 underprivileged children with primary and secondary education as well as 500 mothers with microloans to support economic self-sufficiencyWatch this short film about Ranu and Jayeeta and see how your donation can truly change a life !

Yoga Gives Back supports more than 600 children with primary and secondary education through the Sister Aid Program

Yoga Gives Back is dedicated to bringing resources and hope to the communities we serve in India by working directly with our NGO Partners to identify the most critical needs as they rebuild their lives from the devastation this pandemic has left behind.  We are currently working on plans to support teachers and students in their local learning centers as they struggle to make up for the 18 months of lost learning and work through the social and emotional challenges the children are facing in the wake of the pandemic. Learn more about Yoga Gives Back Programs.

Please consider joining Yoga Gives Back in giving back to support children’s education in India.  You can support 1 child with a year of primary education for just $25.  Donate Here.