Schooling during pandemic
Despite the Covid-19 related Unlock, schools in Kashmir continue to remain closed. The continuous closure of schools has not only impacted the schooling of the children but also heightened the anxiety of the parents who remain unsure of the future of their wards. While elsewhere, the schools were closed in March 2020 following the pandemic, in Kashmir almost all educational institutions, technically, are locked since August 2019 when Government of India decided to revoke the special status of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Though the government and private schools introduced the virtual class concept but it goes without saying that only a little percentage of students, particularly those hailing from rural Kashmir, could benefit from this initiative. In absence of 4 G internet service, when those, having access to smart phones, couldn’t get benefitted properly given the lousy network.
Now that the GoI has moved from Lockdown to Unlock, the authorities, that be, need to have a fresh look towards this grave issue. The children can’t be kept out of their class rooms forever. Schooling is not all about learning the prescribed syllabus, it is about the overall intellectual, emotional, physical, psychological and social development of the child. The virtual classroom may help the students to pass the examinations but it can’t, in anyway, help the related developments.
It goes without saying that following the Unlock, the students are almost living a normal life sans schooling. They are attending family gatherings, they accompany their parents on shopping sprees, they indulge in sports activities with their friends and they even attend Darsgahs to seek religious knowledge. So why should they not attend schools? Yes they can subject if the authorities revisit the whole schooling concept with some innovative and creative thinking.
No one can dispute the apprehensions of parents regarding the safety of their children during spread of pandemic but at the same time if authorities develop some innovative measures, these apprehensions could be taken care of. For instance, what if the Lt Governor administration follows Delhi government’s odd-even policy vis-à-vis opening of schools. Let the schools be asked to go for odd-even schooling so that only half of the students attend classes on a particular day. That would ensure proper physical distancing and at the same time help students get the feel of normality.