Private schools violate Govt guidelines on online classes

The private schools in the Valley particularly in Srinagar are violating the guidelines of the Government of India (GoI) issued for holding online classes of the students from primary to higher secondary-level.

With the commencement of the new academic session, most of the schools have framed a flawed time table for the primary and upper primary class students wherein children have to remain glued to the electronic gadgets for the entire day.

The move is in violation the guidelines announced by MHRD for online classes by the schools wherein they recommended a cap on the duration and the number of sessions in a day for the students.

The guidelines were framed by the MHRD ministry following concerns raised by the parents about the schools conducting online classes like regular schools, which has increased the screen time of the children.

However, parents in Kashmir complained that the private schools violate the MHRD guidelines for holding online classes, which was taking a toll on their health.

“The schools are overburdening the students with long-duration classes and have kept more than five sessions at a stretch for a day,” said Muhammad Amin, a parent from Srinagar.

As per the time table framed by one of the schools in Srinagar, the students have to attend online classes from 11 am to 3 pm like regular schooling.

“It is adversely affecting the health of our children. Besides the long duration, the slow speed of internet also makes it difficult for the students to concentrate on the studies. The screen either vanishes away or gets blurred due to which the students get psychologically disturbed,” the parent said.

The parents complained that after finishing their classes, their children complain of headache and other ailments.

“Their eyesight is also getting affected because they remain glued to the screen of the laptop or mobile phones for long duration during the class,” said another parent, Usman Ahmad.

The parents said the schools should frame a proper schedule and take short duration classes in the interest of the students.

They said the full day schedule for online classes was becoming a burden on the parents too.

“I have two children and I have to give them two separate mobile phones to attend the classes for the whole day,” he said.

For normal schooling, the duration of a class is 30 to 40 minutes but in case of online classes, the teachers have kept a class for the duration of an hour.

“Students have to attend more than four to five classes at a stretch. It seems teachers are in a hurry to complete the syllabus in a rush,” Usman said.

As already reported by Greater Kashmir, the School Education department earlier issued an advisory for the private schools, directing them not to take regular online classes of long duration, citing its ill-effects on children’s health.

The private schools were asked not to rush through the syllabus by sending videos in large number and holding long duration classes through zoom or other apps.

However, it seems that the schools are not adhering to the MHRD guidelines and the advisory issued by the School Education department.

The schools also do not take parents onboard to fix the duration of the classes despite having circular instructions to frame the time table in consultation with the parents.

NCERT has already issued a module for holding online classes wherein it has been suggested that a cap must be put on screen time keeping the overall development of the students in mind.

The NCERT has suggested that the duration of class for pre-primary be only up to 30 minutes and 30 to 45 minutes for primary to class 12.

Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK), Muhammad Younis Malik said they would look into the matter.

“Online classes need to be regulated like regular classes. We will issue instructions to the private schools to put a cap on the duration of classes as per norms,” he said.