The Parliamentarians’ Group for Children (PGC) with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Swaniti Initiative had arranged a meeting to discuss the reopening of schools and various precautionary measures to be followed towards child-centric pandemic recovery.
Numerous members of Parliament, education experts and teachers have underlined the need to reopen schools and expressed deep concern and anxiety over the learning losses suffered by students.
During this online discussion, experts suggested various models for schools that would help in regaining normalcy and recover the learning losses in the process too. Numerous schools across Maharashtra resumed physical sessions smoothly for Classes 5 to 12 only on Monday after being shut for over one-and-a-half years in the wake of the corona crisis.
Gaurav Gogoi, an MP, said that in their initial years, children require the physical presence of a school to learn and grow, even beyond the realms of a textbook, the pandemic forced them to live a life in solitude.
“School closures come at a huge price of learning. School closures impacted learning and negatively impacted children’s health, nutrition, and overall personality development including mental health at critical developmental stages,” added Mr. Gogoi.
“We must now focus on reopening the primary grades as well given that the risk of COVID to this population is the least, as stated in several Lancet reports, and as the learning loss is the highest, given the challenges of remote learning,”Rajeshwari Chandrasekar, Chief of the field office, UNICEF Maharashtra, welcomed the government’s recent decision to reopen schools and said.
MP Dr. Fauzia Khan, a prominent member of PGC, said that loss of discipline among the students was another issue. Many children were simply present during the online classes but did not actively learn much.
“There is an overall crisis in child rights due to the closure of the schools, especially pre-primary students who were most impacted. We also must ensure that the most vulnerable children like children with physical disabilities, must be well protected and also encouraged when it comes to higher education,” Dr. Khan said.