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The TESF India Pandemic Study

In this podcast series- ‘The TESF India Pandemic Study’ we discuss the impact of the first wave of the pandemic on the education, livelihood, and health of the most vulnerable and marginalised sections of society in India. In episodes 1 and 2, the impact of school closure in Delhi is discussed. Episodes 3 and 4 assess the impact of the closure of higher education institutions in Bengaluru; and Episodes 5, 6 and 7 provide insights on how the loss of income impacted the lives of informal workers in Tiruchirappalli (Trichy). Each episode will close with an expert opinion on key takeaways and policy recommendations.

List of Episodes

School Education

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Episode 1: Lived experiences of online schooling in Delhi: Are children really learning?

In this episode, students from government and private schools talk about their experiences of attending school online – what worked, what didn’t; their struggles and anxieties. The focus is on five different aspects: barriers in accessing virtual classrooms, gender disparities, the pressure of attending online classes, pedagogical challenges in online schooling, and the misuse of internet access – an emerging issue, as children spend more time online. 

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Episode 2: The costs of school closure in the pandemic: How is the system impacted?

This episode discusses four major impacts. First, how the closure of several low fee-paying (LFP) private schools led to a high increase in enrolments in state schools, creating possibilities to revive the state school system. Second, as a large number of teachers working on contract were laid off during the pandemic, it augmented the problem of teacher shortage. Third, increasing surveillance over online platforms from diverse authorities – parents, school administration and state officials – destroyed whatever little freedom teachers enjoyed with their children in the corporeal classes. Fourth, the bulk of government school teachers were roped in for COVID-19 related duties, leading to health risks and fatalities.

Higher Education

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Episode 3: Digital learning: Creating new forms of exclusion?

The impact of the lockdown on faculty, students and research scholar on four specific aspects – classroom experience, practice-based learning, research activities, and emotional health and mental wellbeing is explored is this episode.

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Episode 4: Deepening existing inequalities and commodification of education

This episode explores how the pandemic-induced shift to online teaching and learning deepened existing inequalities and vulnerabilities that plague the higher education system in India. The gendered impact of the pandemic and the responses by higher education institutions to address some of these evolving challenges are explored.

Livelihoods

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Episode 5: Livelihood ‘lockdown’: Immediate impact of the pandemic on informal workers in Trichy

In this episode, we discuss how informal workers experienced the loss of income as they were unable to go out and work. Their struggle to meet basic needs such as food, rent and electricity and their desperate attempts to step out to work in order to survive during the lockdown are highlighted.

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Episode 6: ‘We struggled a lot’: Coping strategies during the pandemic

The different coping strategies adopted by informal workers to survive the lockdown and the pandemic are discussed in this episode. The various self-help measures adopted such as borrowing money, pledging valuables, utilizing savings or finding alternative income-generating avenues in order to deal with economic disruption are highlighted. In addition, participants narrate their experiences of getting relief from the Tamil Nadu state government and highlight the assistance from non-state actors such as their employers, customers, philanthropists, and individuals who work with NGOs and civil society organisations.

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Episode 7: ‘Our lives are not the same anymore’: Continued impact of lockdown on lives and livelihood

The final episode talks about how the economic downturn and COVID-19 restrictions hampered informal workers’ attempts to rebuild their lives. The podcast concludes with an overview of the key takeaways from this research and recommendations for education policy and the urban.

Sumit Bose
Former Finance Secretary, GOI

Sumit Bose was the Union Finance Secretary and Revenue Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India till his retirement from the Indian Administrative Service in March, 2014. In the Ministry of Finance he was also Secretary in the Departments of Expenditure and Disinvestment.
As Joint Secretary in the Department of Elementary Education, he was responsible for the launch of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. He was also Secretary, School Education in Madhya Pradesh.

Currently he serves as an Independent Director on the boards of several companies and on the boards of various non-profits such as Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, Jal Seva Charitable Foundation (WaterAid India), Parivaar Education Society (Kolkata) and Samaj Pragati Sahayog (Bagli, Dewas).

Nargis Panchapakesan
Former Head and Dean, Central Institute of Education, University of Delhi

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K. Subramaniam
Former Director, HBCSE, TIFR, Mumbai

Professor K. (Ravi) Subramaniam holds a PhD in Philosophy from IIT, Mumbai. He served as Director of the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR, Mumbai from July 2016 to June 2021.

Professor Subramaniam has worked extensively in the area of mathematics education. He has taught various courses in mathematics education for doctoral students including: Introduction to Mathematics Education Research, Theoretical Perspectives on School Mathematics, Representations and Reasoning, and Philosophy of Education. He was a key contributor to course development of the M.A. Elementary Education programme at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and has taught the Pedagogy of Mathematics; Child development and Cognition courses in the programme.   He has mentored and supervised doctoral students across a range of topics including, learning of mathematics, teacher development and mathematics teaching, and science, technology and sustainability.

Professor Subramaniam has a range of publications to his credit in international and national peer reviewed journals. He has authored books for students and teachers, developed manuals and resources for teachers and published various research reports. Professor Subramaniam has made mathematics an enjoyable subject through his books titled - Maths for every child. Some of his key and co-authored publications include: Teachers’ construction of meanings of signed quantities and integer operation, (Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 2017) and Mathematics teacher training manual class I and class II. New Delhi: NCERT, (2010).

Professor Geetha B. Nambissan
Former Chairperson ZHCES, SSS, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Professor Geetha B. Nambissan is a sociologist of education. She was formerly with the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her research has focused on exclusion, inclusion, and social justice in education with particular reference to the schooling of marginalized sections of Indian society: Dalits, Adivasis, and the poor. She has published widely in these areas. Her current research interests include the privatization of schooling and urban transformations and education. She is the editor of the ‘India' section, in the Second International Handbook on Urban Education (Springer, 2017). Her recent publications include ‘Caste and the Politics of the Early “Public” in Schooling: Dalit Struggle for an Equitable Education’ (Contemporary Education Dialogue, July 2020) and Education and the Changing Urban in Delhi: Privilege and Exclusion in a Megacity (Perspectivia.net, 2021). She has been President of the Comparative Education Society of India.

Anshu Vaish
Former Secretary, Education, MHRD

Ms. Anshu Vaish, an Indian Administrative Service officer of the batch of 1975, Madhya Pradesh Cadre, superannuated as Secretary, School Education and Literacy in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Prior to that, she has worked extensively in the social sector, including culture and school education, serving in the Departments of Women and Child Development, Health, Social Justice and Empowerment. She has also headed the Archaeological Survey of India as its Director General.

Ms. Anshu Vaish has been involved in various assignments over the years. She chaired the Task Force on Restructuring of the National Council for Teacher Education and was a member of NUEPA’s group to draft a Model Education Code for schools. She has served as Chairperson of Rangasri Little Ballet Troupe Trust, Chairperson of PRADAN, Member of the Governing Body of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Bhopal, and Independent Director on the Board of Steel Authority of India.

Currently, Ms. Vaish serves as Chairperson of Rainbow Foundation of India and Member on the General Body of Centre for Equity Studies. She is also a Member on the governing bodies of KATHA, Swami Sivananda Memorial Institute, and Aga Khan Foundation India.