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Dinesh|Jul 4, 2022
NEW DELHI: The National Coalition on the Education Emergency, a group comprising activists, educationists and physicians, has opposed the decision of various state governments across India to close schools as covid cases in India are on the rise again. According to the coalition, schools must be the last to close and the first to open during a Covid-19, omicron crisis.
“State governments of Delhi, Goa and Haryana have already ordered school closure. This could have disast[rous] consequences for children since the previous lockdown has adversely affected the nutrition, health and education of children across the country,” a statement from the group said.
The organisation further pointed to increased cases of child labour, early marriages, domestic violence, academic regression and dropout rates during the Covid induced lockdown period.
“Young children have lost touch with learning. Their reading and numeracy skills have been affected. Huge dropouts in schools across the country are a reflection of this. Online education is not accessible to everyone, and is also not as effective as physical classroom learning for most children. Young children and adolescents are least vulnerable to the Covid virus,” it said.
The organisation urged governments to take into consideration the educational costs at par with the economic costs of lockdown. The letter further said that the harm from keeping schools open is much lesser than closing schools. The organisation also pointed out many examples across the world where schools have been kept open throughout the pandemic.
The letter insisted that teachers should be present in schools rather than be deployed for Covid-related tasks. The governments are bound to make alternate arrangements for it, like how Tamil Nadu employed paid youth volunteers for community-related activities.
The organisation also suggested certain guidelines that schools can follow to keep students safe. It said that in-person attendance should be encouraged but not made compulsory. Schools have to provide sanitising measures, masks and enable physical distancing. Classes should be held in open premises, or in rooms with proper ventilation.
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