With the state government still indecisive on the issue of reopening of schools for lower classes, the educationists and health experts have come in support of reopening of schools for primary classes from February 1.
The group that has been most vocal on this demand, the Vidyartigala Nade Shaleya Kade, has been appealing for the reopening of schools since December 2020.
The experts cite the SC ruling favoring the reopening of Aanganwadis before January 31 saying that the ruling, by implication, indicates the appropriateness of the reopening of schools. the experts believe that the protracted closure of schools is giving rise to academic inequality as a sizable section is far from the benefits of online education.
The data from the National Sample Survey Organization gives us an insight into the magnitude of the inequality of access to education. The said data indicates that only 11 percent of rural students have access to mobile phones and just 2 percent have internet access. The data also indicates the covid-19 penetration; .09 percent of children between 1 and 10 years have been infected, and .11 percent of children between 11 and 12 years have been infected.
The experts believe that the data shows that the risk of the infection is way lesser than the serious risk of academic inequity that the school closure is giving rise to. The impact, they believe, is going to be far-reaching as the young children will find it exceptionally hard to recover the losses.
The loss of educational opportunity is serious, yet is not exclusive, the health and nutrition is a collateral causality. Schools in rural areas support the nutrition of millions of children, a majority of whom are dependent on the mid-day meals provided by the schools. the loss of the opportunity of interaction is restricting education to information overload and reopening of schools is the only way to remedy that, experts believe.
As it stands, the government has decided to reopen schools for 10 and 12 standard form January 1. The government schools have started classes for 6 to 9 under Vidygama scheme which restricts student strength to 15 students at a time. Another supplementary intervention for primary classes includes the uploading of YouTube videos. The reason behind the second thoughts about reopening of schools for primary classes is, in part, due to the Covid-19 infection in children who availed Vidygama scheme in Belgavi and Karburgi districts.
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Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.