'67% girls in urban slums didn't attend online classes'
New Delhi: A study conducted in urban slums of Delhi, Maharashtra, Bihar, and Telangana revealed that 67 per cent of girls attended online classes and 56 per cent did not get time for recreational activities during the Covid-induced lockdown in 2020.
The study by NGO "Save The Children" in February last year also found that 68 per cent of girls, aged between 10 and 18 years, faced challenges in accessing health and nutrition services in these states.
Delhi, Maharashtra, Bihar and Telangana represented the four geographical zones — east, west, north and south.
The states were selected using a composite measure, including metrics such as incidence of COVID-19, child sex ratio, women getting married before 18 years, annual dropout ratio and women aged between 15 and 24 years using hygienic methods during the menstrual cycle. In each state, two districts or cities were selected.
During the 2020 lockdown, fear of infection, closure of schools and health centres, long queues and unavailability of health staff made it difficult for adolescent girls to access health and nutrition services, the report titled 'Wings 2022: World of India's Girls: Spotlight on Adolescent Girls amid COVID 19' read.
After the lockdown, 51 per cent of the adolescent girls continued facing challenges in accessing health services.
"Across the four states, one in three girls attended online classes during the lockdown. Three in four mothers (73 per cent) indicated that the pandemic had adversely impacted their daughter's learning to a large extent," the report stated.
Since the closure of schools, two in five girls (42 per cent) were not contacted by school staff as reported by mothers during the pandemic period.
It reduced the opportunities for play and recreation as schools are the spaces for girls to engage in extracurricular activities and pursue creative pursuits with their classmates.
One in two girls reported that they missed travelling to and from school with their siblings and friends. Many girls also missed the games period (46 per cent), library class (40 per cent), lunch break (35 per cent) as well as the drawing and painting class (30 per cent).
The study also showed that job losses and reduced household incomes due to the pandemic have increased the likelihood of child marriages.
"One in seven (14 per cent) mothers felt that the pandemic has increased the risk of early marriage among girls," it said.