Asian Insider

School, interrupted: How Covid-19 has affected students around the world

Millions of children around the world have had their education disrupted as the Covid-19 pandemic shuttered schools and kept them home. The Straits Times’ correspondents in India, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia report on how students there have fared and when their studies can get back on track.

The pandemic has kept millions of children from attending school. Students and pupils from across Asia give their views on their lives learning from home.

'Food before studies': School enrolment in India plunges as parents struggle to pay fees

At a school in Pataudi in India's Haryana state, a "welcome back to school" message is written on a whiteboard at the entrance.

But Mr Rashtriya Aman Mudgal, whose family started the private Navjivan Middle School, is not sure how many students he is welcoming back.

Senior schools, from Class 6 upwards, opened this month after a three-month break but Mr Mudgal estimated that up to 220 of its 300 students have left his school.

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'Three bars on the phone': Students in rural India hunt for Wi-Fi hot spots to study

Over the past year, the inhabitants of Sullia in south India's Karnataka state have learned why it takes a village to raise a child.

Over 1.5 million schools across India have closed since March last year under the government-imposed lockdown to battle Covid-19. More than 247 million children have had to rely on remote learning since late last year.

But in rural areas like Sullia, online classes are out of reach for many households that have no electricity, let alone Internet access.

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Philippines risk 'permanent scarring' of kids' futures amid remote learning failure

Millions of Filipino students have spent the past year cooped up at home, learning mostly through their computers and phones, or through printed lessons their parents pick up from the school.

Some 9,000 schools in the country have been shut since March last year as the government pushed for remote learning.

By most accounts, that experiment has failed.

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Parents in Malaysia wary of Covid-19 chaos as children prepare to return to school

Malaysia's bid to reopen schools in stages from Sept 1 has been met with cautious optimism, as parents and teachers alike recall the chaos of Covid-19 spreading through schools when physical classes restarted in March, just as aggressive mutations of the virus were making landfall.

Today, the hyper-infectious Delta variant is fuelling the record-breaking surge, with five-figure new infections, and deaths averaging over 150 daily, despite months of stay-home orders. Worryingly, at least a dozen of those killed in the first half of the year were aged 18 or younger, double the tally for the whole of last year.

Stakeholders have called for clear standard operating procedures (SOPs) and strategies to ensure the return of millions in both public and private schools does not spark another surge in cases.

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Indonesia's private tutors and gadgets replace physical classrooms during Covid-19 pandemic

Indonesian mother Ekarina resorted to private tutors to teach her only daughter, Athira, from February this year as kindergartens were shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Along with two to three other kids, the five-year old learns to read, write and count thrice a week at an early learning centre in her housing complex. She also studies the Quran five days a week with another peer.

Ms Ekarina, who believes online learning does not suit kids, told The Straits Times: "It's better to focus on enhancing my daughter's basic skills like reading, writing and counting, and immersing her in religious education ahead of elementary school next year."

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