"On 28 June 2021, over one crore students enrolled in government primary schools in Bihar will begin attending online classes."
The Bihar state government has settled on a decision regarding classes 1 to 5 students in government schools. On 28 June 2021, over one crore students enrolled in government primary schools in Bihar will begin attending online classes. Previously, although secondary students have had online learning opportunities, the state had not made any concessions for primary students.
Bihar commenced the pandemic unlocking process in a staggered mode in May 2021. Nonetheless, given the vulnerability of children to COVID-19, primary schools will likely reopen in the final phase. This final phase could take place weeks, even months away. Thus, something had to be done sooner. In an interview, the BEPC (Bihar Education Project Council) state project director Sanjay Kumar Singh commented on online education. The BEPC is an agency under the Bihar Education Department that formulates and implements nodal policies. As quoted, “We have to devise study material for students of Classes 1-5 as we did for Classes 6-12 during the first and second lockdowns. We have to consult experts to work out rich yet interesting content for primary school children.” Thus, the state government will provide a comprehensive education for younger students until primary schools reopen.
Why Gaps in Primary Education are Concerning
The lack of attention given to younger students in the wake of the pandemic has been a major topic of worry. Although primary students are years away from major exams, gaps in education at a young age can have harsh consequences. In classes 1 to 5, literacy and numeracy skills are still formative and require steady work. Due to this, several reports have surfaced of students completely missing literacy milestones in the past year. As the current teaching method for secondary education is mostly writing-based, this can result in disadvantaged students falling behind their more proficient peers. Therefore, these education delays can have damaging impacts for the rest of their lives.