CHILDHOOD PAUSED
THE WEEK|January 23, 2022
In the long term, kids may be the biggest victims of the pandemic—having suffered losses in learning and at psychosocial and developmental levels
SRAVANI SARKAR

NEELU COULD EASILY belt out multiplication tables up to 26 when she was in class three. She had almost learned division, too. She was capable of reading and writing basic Hindi sentences and could also comprehend some English words. That was two years ago.

Now, Neelu, 10, a dalit girl from Nagla Shyam village, Bharatpur district, Rajasthan, is in class five. But, she can only recite tables up to nine. She can barely manage addition, and reads Hindi sentences with difficulty. Aman, her classmate, is even worse off—he only remembers tables up to eight and has completely forgotten how to read. “Neelu's and almost all her schoolmates' learning levels have reverted by four-five years during the past two years as lockdowns distanced them from education,” Suresh Sharma, principal, Nagla Shyam Primary School told THE WEEK.

About 750km away, in tribal-dominated Nogawa, Meghnagar block, Jhabua district, Madhya Pradesh, Nisha Dewal, 11, who was a class four student in 2019-2020, did not rejoin her school when it reopened in September 2021. She has forgotten everything she learned and her parents—both daily wage labourers—are unable to focus on her education as they struggle to care for their six children.

Siraj, 12, of Ghazipur settlement in East Delhi, dropped out of school during the lockdown because of the lack of access to online classes and the family income dwindling; his family is dependent on waste picking. He was found picking waste by volunteers of the Association for Social Justice and Research and was convinced to take classes at its child activity centre (CAC). But, Siraj remains out of school and continues to pick waste to support his family.

Wahid, 16, the third of six children from a daily-wager family in Trikolbal, Baramulla, Kashmir, was also forced to drop out of class 10. He began weaving shawls to help his family, but was inducted into the local CAC by volunteers of the Jammu and Kashmir Association of Social Workers (JKASW). He is now working and studying; he hopes to appear for class 10 examinations next year.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM THE WEEKView All

Not All Of Ray's Films Are Equally Great

Having a conversation with Girish Kasaravalli at his home in Bengaluru is not easy as his replies often get drowned out in the din of the traffic outside. The globally acclaimed director has a clear opinion about the evolution of Indian cinema and the contributions by eminent directors like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen. In an exclusive interview with THE WEEK, Kasaravalli says although Ray’s cinema language was unique, it was missing in his final few films.

5 mins read
THE WEEK
May 22, 2022

Bengali Literature No Longer Fit Enough To Make Movies

The second wave of the pandemic robbed film buffs of the chance to celebrate the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray. This year, however, people from all walks of life are flocking to 1/1 Bishop Lefroy Road, Kolkata—Ray’s home for the last two decades of his life—to pay homage to the maestro. Ray’s son, Sandip, who is also a famous director, stays here now. In an exclusive interview with THE WEEK, Sandip opens up about his father and explains the attempts being made to preserve and protect his legacy.

5 mins read
THE WEEK
May 22, 2022

From Ray To Decay

Satyajit Ray influenced mainstream Bengali cinema like no one else did, and he drew inspiration from Bengali literature for his works. Seven decades after his Pather Panchali, Bengali cinema seems to be lost. A parallel decline in Bengali literature could be key to this free fall

10+ mins read
THE WEEK
May 22, 2022

SEA DREAMS

Work on Mission Samudrayaan, India’s daring deep-sea crewed voyage—set to be launched in 2024—is in full swing. THE WEEK explores the details of the ambitious project

10 mins read
THE WEEK
May 22, 2022

ON THE HIGHWAY TO GROWTH

Tamil Nadu takes big strides in growth and development under the able leadership of Honourable Chief Minister Thiru M.K. Stalin

8 mins read
THE WEEK
May 22, 2022

Delimited franchise

Despite the allegations of gerrymandering against the BJP, the opposition is keen for elections

4 mins read
THE WEEK
May 22, 2022

What happened to Dabholkar and Kalburgi can happen to me

ON JULY 11, 2016, a mob of upper-caste men at Una town in Gujarat’s Gir Somnath district attacked seven members of a dalit family who were skinning a dead cow.

7 mins read
THE WEEK
May 22, 2022

THE BENGALI FILM INDUSTRY HAS BECOME BANKRUPT

Goutam Ghose is one of the last remaining stalwarts of the Bengali parallel movie movement, along with Sandip Ray. Although he is a product of the new wave cinema, his style is quite different from that of doyens of the industry like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak. In an exclusive interview with THE WEEK, Ghose talks about the masters of the new wave movement and the dramatic decline of Bengali cinema.

4 mins read
THE WEEK
May 22, 2022

PATHER PANCHALI WAS THE FIRST GENUINE CINEMA TO COME OUT OF INDIA

A door Gopalakrishnan, one of India’s greatest filmmakers, has been among the stalwarts of the country’s new wave cinema, pioneered by Mrinal Sen. In an exclusive interview with THE WEEK, he speaks about his friendship with Satyajit Ray, his admiration for the maestro’s craft and the declining standards of Bengali cinema.

6 mins read
THE WEEK
May 22, 2022

LOSING THE PLOT

Poor technical quality, inane insertion of song and dance, nonsensical dialogues and contrived plot lines have dealt a body blow to Bengali mainstream cinema

4 mins read
THE WEEK
May 22, 2022