SHOULD SCHOOLS BE REOPENED?
Some says they shouldn’t others says they should. Some states have already reopened in India this includes Punjab, Uttrakhand, Haryana, Madhya pradesh, Himachal pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Gujarat, and most of these states schools have been reopened for selective classes mostly senior classes grade 9 and above. In Himachal pradesh for example, schools have reopened for classes 10 to 12. But in most Indian states schools are still closed and they have been closed for more than 500 days now.
The Wuhan virus was declared a pandemic 17 months ago in March 2020. In March 2020 over 250 million primary school and middle school children have not stepped into their classrooms. This is a situation in India and all of these numbers are true. By these numbers they do not necessarily translate into a safety certificate for schools. They do not mean reopening schools are now safe.
Those arguing of reopening site instances of bars and shopping malls, even marriage halls, they’re all open. They’ve all opened why not schools they say. Well for one, schools are for children and children are not been vaccinated most of them are below 18 years of age. In India children are not qualified for Wuhan virus vaccination. So sending them to school unvaccinated which mean their lives exposing them to the virus. Will parents be ok with that? Won’t it be better to wait it out and make sure that their kids will be safe at school and right now they won’t be.
The pandemic has not gone away. There are cases arising in many countries and in India third wave is on the horizon.
One may say this from a privileged position as some children have access to digital learning i.e., they can afford to attend classes from home but many others can’t. Many students and teacher in India can’t afford a smartphone, a laptop or a computer. Many schools lack basic infrastructure required for conducting online classes. For example computers, the following is showing the statistical data of computer facilities present in different states of India:-
The above data shows Assam and Madhya pradesh with 13%, Bihar and West Bengal with 14 %, Tripura with 15% and Uttarpradesh with 18% of schools with computer facilities.
How are schools Managing to conduct classes in the middle of the pandemic?
Oxfam India carried out a survey in 2020 interviewing nearly 1200 parents and 500 teachers. They were all from the Indian states of Odisha, Bihar, jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and U.P.
–> 80% parents said that children have not received any education during the pandemic.
–> 4 out 5 students had not received new textbooks for the academic year.
–> Teachers fears that 30% of students might not return to schools when reopens
Therefore, there is not doubt that school closure is taking a toll on education, it is also threatening to undo the gains made in the education sector in general. The facilities deficit in government-funded schools does not help.
According to the educational Ministry,
–> At least a 113 Million students attends government schools in India.
–> 65% from 20 states are enrolled in them.
–> Only 30% of these schools have functional computers.
The Education Ministry data also says that in the run-up to the pandemic less than 12% of India’s government have internet facilities. Also only three states of India have internet facilities in majority of their school which are Kerala, Delhi, Gujarat.
It is not wrong to believe that schools should reopen that every child should be able to access learning. After all education is every child’s right and the pandemic should not be allowed to snatch away that right, so yes they should go back to school but there is a problem our children would not be safe not yet. We may convince ourselves that worth the risk but our trust with that pandemic shows us that nothing is worth risking the Wuhan virus.
The last one year has been a grand experiment, we have tried alternate day work from home, we have tried alternate seatings at restaurants, movie halls, alternate flight of escalated. We have tried all kinds of things but, we should leave children out of these grand experiment.