- Blog By
Dr. Shivkumar Chinnusamy
The Indian Public School
September 22, 2021 | In Blog
Schools are synonymous for children, vibrancy, positivity, and learning. But it’s been a year and a half since the schools were any of these. The schools were the first ones to close and probably the last ones to reopen. Though this has allowed educators to explore alternate ways of teaching, to be honest, there has been a setback to learning.
The online platform has no doubt created many avenues to learn and also has connected
knowledge seekers worldwide with just a click. It is surely a way forward but cannot be a regular mode of learning especially for children. The stress levels have certainly increased in children because they totally miss out on the social connect and time with their peers and are always glued to the screen, either for their classes or entertainment. They are already robbed of their space that is closely connected to their childhood. Interactions in schools are extremely important for proficiency in language, communication, social skills, and overall for physical and emotional wellbeing. Gadget addiction has risen sharply among children.
A recent school children’s online and offline survey that was conducted in August 2021 among 1362 children enrolled in Grades 1 to 8 (economically weaker community) shows that only 8 percent of the children attend online regularly and nearly 37 percent of the kids are not studying at all and this is attributed to lack of access to devices and connectivity issues. This clearly shows that the reach of online education is certainly limited. With prolonged closure, these statistics are going to worsen, and the drop-outs will be on the rise. This will seriously hamper the development of this generation of learners and push our development backwards.
A UNESCO study estimated that for every month away from school results in a learning loss of 2 months and these 18 months of closure has set children back by 36 months (3 years). This is a crisis scenario that needs immediate attention. Various Sero-surveys across states have shown that the children have been infected at the same rate or even more than the adults but the risk of developing severe disease is low. It would be appropriate if the schools first open for the kindergarten and Primary years before opening for the Secondary years because of two main reasons,
1) This age group is at a very low risk of acquiring severe infection.
2) Social skills and emotional development gets strengthened only when children play and interact with one another and also increased screen time works negatively for this age group.
Though there are consequences for opening and not opening schools, we need to weigh the pros and cons of both. The consequences of not opening the school have larger implications as per the data presented in the school children’s online and offline survey, Sero-survey reports too show children are at very low risk of serious infection. While in many countries, schools were given the priority to reopen whenever there was a periodic closure but the scenario here has been different with everything else opening apart from schools. Everything said and done, government and schools should implement proper SOPs to ensure prevention of infection and transmission,isolation procedures, and standardized treatment protocols for the safety and development of the next generation and also to allay the fears of parents.