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The Pandemic and Idle Child

The COVID-19 is a ‘unique threat’ to the globe.  It causes disruptions at almost all levels of the social, economic, and culture. Its multilayered effects have been already visible to all categories of population. Its impact on the public domain like family organisation, closing of schools, public places, and changes in work routines, isolation, and so forth is a serious matter of discussion.  People are facing several changes in their daily life whether it is during the lockdown or the unlock period.  Closure of schools is more significant so far as the future of childhood is concerned. Government has already declared to promote the children of Class-I to Class-VIII without any scheduled examination. Secondly, due to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, when the schools would be reopened for these children (Class-I to VIII), it is not confirmed.  Further, from several studies, it was gravitated that during this stage of education the highest number of children of poor families is being dropped out or left school. They have to enter into workforce or trafficked or missing from home. Now, they may have to stay at home. It is a crucial problem for the children of poor families because it would produce and increase the idle children who are neither in paid work nor go to school.

According to the Oxford Dictionary (1884), idle means lazy, not working or unemployed or absence of significant activity or a person passes time without purpose. In a study (2010), it has been revealed that in India, 19.87 % children are idle. Various studies show that household income, household composition and educational attainment, costs of schooling, and proxies of cultural norms are prime factors of children idleness.

The idleness of children also depends on social norms and the social context within which the children grow up. In fact, schooling costs involve two main dimensions: the monetary costs of schooling, given by tuition fees, school supplies, uniforms, and other costs, and the opportunity costs of time, measurable by school availability. That’s why, poor families are mostly preferred to send their children into household work /workforce. But government support and regular interaction with fellow members have been gradually changed their own attitudes, certain perceptions, and preferences.  Social distancing and habits to not attend the schools would be mentally supportive to produce idle children. Due to an adverse economic situation, poor families would send their children to some work for support to their families. They would not get proper support to carry their regular studies with regular attendance in school.

As a result of this, girl child has to face the problem of child marriage and trafficking. The boys might be addicted to alcohol and drugs, and they might be involved in gambling and antisocial activities.

Therefore, government and other development agencies should be sensitive on this issue. It may arrange alternative educational measures like remedial coaching for a small group of children. Secondly, regular interaction with children and their families would help to strengthen and restore their mental state. If this issue is left behind, the nation has to pay for with a bigger problem in future.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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