However, this poses a major academic challenge for students from poor socio-economic backgrounds as they are unable to access online classes.
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Senior educationist Ashok Gavankar said, “We are now in a situation where we are forcibly denying education to school children. They cannot attend online classes because it requires a smartphone and a data pack. Both of these costs are beyond the reach of students. “Both their parents are earning at least Rs 8,000 a month. So, there is no chance of spending money on a smartphone or a monthly data pack.”
Closing the school, senior educationist Ashok Gavankar said, would have been a criminal offense in pre-Covid times. “Under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, children of a certain age cannot be deprived of education. Before 2020, if something like this happens, the school principal or guardian or anyone else is preventing the child from going to school. Arrests will be made,” Gavankar said. .
But whenever schools were ordered to close, the government raised concerns about the health of unvaccinated children.
Another senior educationist who agreed with Gavankar’s view said the government’s policy was flawed. “They have empowered the local authorities to reopen which is wrong. Now, just go and stand on the Nagpur city border. Within a radius of 1 km, you will find at least one school on both sides of the border,” he said.
“So, you walk half a kilometer towards the village and the kids can take classes from 1st-12th grade. But you walk half-kilometer towards the town, and only the eighth-twelfth graders can attend. I want to understand what the scientific and medical phenomenon is.” It happens. Children of the same age within the municipal limits become unsafe, “said the educator.
An education official told TOI that the changed policies were confusing even for their department. “Our offices are located in the city but under our direct jurisdiction the ZP schools are located in the villages. The principals of many schools in the city come to us for administrative work and ask why the rural schools cannot reopen if they work on normal schedule,” the official said.
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