WHO Chief Scientist asks to prioritize school openings

Chief Scientist of World Health Organization, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, urged the nations to prioritize reopening of schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic.


  • Chief scientist highlighted that; Covid-19 has indirectly affected the education greatly by shutting down schools globally.
  • So, she asked to prioritize school opening while maintaining proper health and hygiene.
  • Amid the covid-19 pandemic, 1.5 billion children were suddenly out of school and affected their education.

School Drop out rate in India

  • In January 2021, Right to Education Forum published its report highlighting that, ten million girls in India could drop out of secondary school amid COVID-19 pandemic.
  • As of January 2021, 1.6 million girls aged 11 to 14 years were already out of school. Pandemic could also impact girls by putting them at risk of poverty, early marriage, early pregnancy, trafficking and violence.
  • Report indicates high disparities in female literacy rates. States like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Rajasthan recorded rates below national average of 70.3 per cent.
  • While, states like Mizoram, Kerala, Goa, Lakshadweep and Tripura performed better in female literacy.

Infrastructural Issues

Right to Education Forum also highlighted infrastructural issues such as distance from school was the important roadblocks for girls to access higher education. According to it, for every 100 elementary schools in rural India, there were only 14 offering secondary and six offering higher secondary grades.

Enrolment Ratio among vulnerable women

Enrolment declined drastically for girls belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Muslims as they were subject to multiple marginalisation. Enrolment was 19.34 per cent at the elementary level, 18.6 percent at secondary level among SC girls. This scenario was worst among ST girls.


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