Most homeless children have no access to any form of education, Chennai study reveals

Parents say that as they do not have televisions or smart phones, their children cannot access online classes

December 19, 2020 03:21 pm | Updated 03:45 pm IST - CHENNAI

Photograph used for representational purposes only

Photograph used for representational purposes only

As many as 71 out of 100 homeless children in the city have no access to any form of education during the COVID-19 pandemic, says a study by the Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC).

The IRCDUC was conducting relief work during the pandemic in Broadway and surrounding areas. “Many parents were complaining that their children were not able to study due to a lack of a television (where they could access Kalvi channels) or smart phones for online classes,” said Vanessa Peter, policy researcher, IRCDUC. Hence the centre conducted a study among 100 children in Stringer Street, Davidson Street, Ratan Bazaar, Narayanappa Street, TNPSC Office Road, Lone Square and Devaraja Mudaliar Street.

Out of the children studied, 52 were boys and 48 were girls. While 47% of the children are studying in primary school, 46% are in middle and high school and 7% in higher secondary school. Three children had dropped out of school during the pandemic.

“Most of the children are first-generation learners and being homeless, they did not have access to televisions or smart phones for education. Many did not even know whether online classes were available or not,” explained Vanessa Peter.

V. Sasikala, who lives on Davidson Street, said that her son V. Vasudevan is a class 7 student. “He is a first-generation learner. As we don’t have smart phones, he does not have access to classes. He says he has forgotten everything now. I am worried as we are working hard for his future,” she said.

While some volunteers are planning to mobilise smart phones and computers for the children, members of the homeless community feel it would be better if the government does something about it.

A School Education Department official said that if such issues are brought to the notice of School Education Minister K. A. Sengottaiyan, he would take some measures. “We can set up a desktop at a community hall and arrange for classes for these children. However someone has to approach us with a letter and details,” said the official.

(Childline operates a toll free helpline 1098 for children in distress across the country)

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