As the new academic session commenced from November this year, the private schools have come up with a fresh schedule of online classes for the school children from Nursery to class 12th. The practice has been going on for the past three years now due to the closure of the educational institutions in the wake of the outbreak of the covid19 pandemic.
Amid the closure of the educational institutions, the homes have eventually become the classrooms with teaching taking the virtual mode.
But the shift from manual to e-mode in education is now taking a toll on the health of the small school children as the private schools put these kids to screens for a prolonged time.
Putting a small child in a nursery class on laptop or mobile screens for around three hours is not justified at all. The schools cannot have the same schedule of online classes for kindergarten kids and those studying in secondary or senior secondary classes.
Amid the complaints against the private schools for putting small children to screen for long duration, the government of India last year issued various guidelines to shift the mode of imparting education from offline to online.
The union Ministry of Education (MoE) announced guidelines for online classes by schools and recommended a cap on duration and the number of sessions in a day for students.
The guidelines were framed by the ministry, following concerns raised by parents about schools conducting online classes like regular schools, which increased children's screen time after the COVID-19 pandemic mandated a shift from classroom teaching to online learning as schools continued to remain shut.
The Ministry recommended that the duration for online classes for pre-primary students should not be for more than 30 minutes.
For classes 1 to 8, it was recommended that only two online sessions of up to 45 minutes each should be conducted while four sessions of 30-45 minutes duration each were recommended for classes 9 to 12.
But it seems that the guidelines have remained confined to only papers as the fresh schedule of online classes prepared by schools has gone in violation of the guidelines.
Most of the schools have framed similar online schedules for students from Nursery to class 12th which will obviously impact the health of the minors.
Instead of putting the small children to screens it was better for the schools to provide home based assignments to these kids instead of putting them to screens. Given the online schedule of private schools, it seems there has been no consideration for working parents who are caught in a dilemma whether to attend their duties or spend time with kids on laptop screens. In most of the families the kindergarten kids are seen attended by their grandparents who have a little or no knowledge about handling a laptop or a smartphone. Not to talk of assisting the kids in attending lengthy online classes.
As per the timetable framed by the private schools, the students have to remain glued to laptops or mobile screens from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm or 10am to 1pm with a break of only 10 minutes.
The timetable framed for online classes of students is almost similar to what was followed in a routine before the Covid-19 pandemic.
The parents have been complaining about the long duration of online classes since last year after the schools shifted to online mode of education due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last year, the School Education Department issued an advisory for private schools, directing them not to take regular online classes of long duration, citing its ill effects on the health of children.
The private schools were asked not to rush through the syllabus by sending videos in large numbers and holding long-duration classes through Zoom or other apps.
But the parents complain that the private schools seem to be in a rush to complete the syllabus that too of kindergarten and primary classes which will bear no fruits for kids.
Earlier the Principal Secretary, School Education Department, Bishwajit Kumar Singh stated that the private schools should provide a break of 10 to 15 minutes to students after every class. But it seems that no directions have been issued to private schools to revisit their online schedules. Had any such direction been issued, the students would have gotten some relief.
Amid no action from the government side, the parents have been pleading with the private schools to revisit the time table for online classes but in vain.
A parent whose kid is studying in class 1st has submitted a grievance to the concerned school management and complained that they (husband and wife) are both working parents and are finding it difficult to attend online classes from 10am to 1pm.
“Our daughter needs someone to accompany for guidance, she has little to understand and follow the teacher on her own. It is not a normal classroom. Online system is difficult for a little child to manage. We are struggling and feel frustrated due to this,” the parent has submitted in his grievance.
Both the parents of the kid are working in a hospital and for them it becomes difficult to do away with their duties because of the responsibility they shoulder amid this pandemic.
Instead of addressing the grievances, the school management has put the ball in the court of the school education department saying that the school timings are decided by the department of education. The school management has stated the winter timing for classes as per the government order starts at 10am. Amid this the parents and the students have been left at the receiving end. Taking the reference from the guidelines issued by MoE last year, the school education department should bring a respite for the small children before the e-mode of education proves detrimental for kids. Hope somebody is listening.