The pandemic and lockdown will have a lasting impact on children and we need to know how to deal with it. Not only adults but children too are desperately hoping to return to pre-COVID-19 times. Schooling is more than just learning and writing exams. Children are waiting to run their school playgrounds. They are never happy about being kept away from school for long.
As the Central government’s Unlock 2 is coming to an end on July 31, the recent media reports suggested that the Ministry of Home Affairs is preparing guidelines for Unlock 3. Most probably, it is expected that the Home Ministry will release the latest guidelines before August 1. As per media reports, in the next phase of unlocking, the schools and colleges will remain shut. This is exam result time, but there is less chance for the schools, colleges, and universities to reopen anytime soon.
Looking into the rising cases of COVID-19, the Madhya Pradesh government had already said it will make a decision on re-opening of schools in the state on July 31. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) already started consultation with all states. The MHRD had earlier said that it was seeking feedback from parents on the issue. Later, it said that parents are not in favour of the reopening of school at this time.
There are debates on re-opening and online learning across the country. But instead of debating on when schools should be re-opening, it is important to ask how children and teachers are going to respond to the re-opening of schools. Instead of debating on the pros and cons of online education, we must now focus on how school spaces can be made safe and hygienic to fight with the community infection. Also, there are various kinds of schools in the country such as rural and urban, government and private, co-ed, etc. Therefore; it is very difficult to visualize a pan-India response of the system to re-opening.
This pandemic has out many school-going children out of schools. It has impacted children’s lives far beyond health. The majority of parents are not in favour of sending their wards to schools even if the government gives green signal to schools to start earlier than expected. Therefore; states and CBSE need to come together to evaluate new learning models. For that CBSE needs to be more imaginative and think out of the box. For instance, CBSE’s decision to slash course module by 30 percent is a very lazy and half-hearted attempt to address systemic faults in Indian academic learning. CBSE must get to work on a new course module that is attuned to global learning patterns.