"Children are amongst the worst hit by Covid trauma, many having lost their parents to the dreadful situation. Congress President makes an important suggestion to safeguard their future & provide them free education at NVs. It's high time GOI listened!" Rahul Gandhi tweeted, along with a copy of the letter signed by Sonia Gandhi and addressed to PM Modi.
Mrs Gandhi in the letter said children whose either parents or an earning parent died due to COVID-19 should be allowed to study for free in the government's flagship school network - the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.
"I feel that as a nation, we owe it to them to give them hope for a robust future after the unimaginable tragedy that has befallen them," Mrs Gandhi said in the letter.
"...News of young children losing one of both parents to COVID-19 are the most poignant. These children are left with the trauma of loss and no support towards a stable education or future," Mrs Gandhi said.
Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi conceptualised the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) as an experiment in 1986 and added it to the National Policy on Education that same year. The JNVs focussed on talented children in rural areas and provided them education comparable to the best in a residential school system, the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, which runs the JNVs, says on its website. The JNV system is today unparalleled in school education in India and elsewhere, the Samiti says.
"As you are aware, one of my husband Rajiv Gandhi's most significant legacies is the network of Navodaya Vidyalayas. It was his dream to make high-quality modern education accessible and affordable to talented youth, predominantly from rural areas. There are now, as you know, 661 such schools across the country," Mrs Gandhi said.
Children are amongst the worst hit by Covid trauma, many having lost their parents to the dreadful situation.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 20, 2021
Congress President makes an important suggestion to safeguard their future & provide them free education at NVs.
It's high time GOI listened! pic.twitter.com/vc6MaysIVc
"I am writing to request you to consider providing free education at the Navodaya Vidyalayas to children who have lost either both parents or an earning parent on account of COVID-19 pandemic…" Mrs Gandhi said.
The Delhi government has already announced it would give Rs 2,500 every month to children whose parents have died of Covid. The children will get the money till they turn 25, and their education will also be paid by the Delhi government.
Sources in the BJP said Mrs Gandhi's idea of looking after children orphaned during the pandemic is "outdated and copied". "Several state governments are already doing it except perhaps those run by the Congress," a BJP leader told NDTV.