On June 19, the Telangana government announced its decision to reopen all educational institutions in the state.

Girl students with masks studying in a classroomImage for representation- File photo/PTI
news Education Sunday, June 20, 2021 - 17:27

The Telangana government’s decision to reopen all educational institutions from July 1, amidst the scare of a possible third wave of COVID-19 that could affect children, has left the parents of students - especially those studying in private schools - worried. The anxious parents have appealed to Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to reconsider the decision and continue with the online mode of education.

On June 19, Sunday, the Telangana government completely lifted all the lockdown restrictions that had been in force in the state since May 12, claiming that the number of COVID-19 cases have come down. Along with removing the restrictions, the government asked all educational institutions to reopen from July 1, with “full preparedness and allow the students to attend the classes physically”.

Several parents have however expressed concern over this “hasty” decision of the government. Tulsi Venkat, a parent residing in Kukatpally in the city, said, “We are not ready to send our children to schools under the present circumstances. There is a scare that the next wave would be even more intense, and that it would affect children. So how wise is this decision? At least until everyone gets vaccinated, virtual classes should be allowed to continue.”

Expressing concern, he further added, “In my family all the adults suffered from COVID-19. It was quite traumatic. We want the government to reconsider their decision. Of course we want our children to study well, but attending classes physically amidst a pandemic is ill-advised.”

Another parent, Chandrajeet Singh, who is part of the Hyderabad Schools Parents' Association, said, “The Telangana government has taken a hasty decision. Already there is a threat of a possible intense third wave of COVID-19 that might affect children. But without considering all this, the government taking such a decision is unfortunate. The pandemic has not ended, nor are we fully equipped to handle another wave. We are not happy with the government’s decision asking students to physically attend schools. It is not just me, many parents are of the same view.”

“Unless there is a foolproof mechanism in place to face the health crisis, this seems like a dangerous move. Its intent seems to be solely for revenue making,” Chandrajeet said.

However, some teachers have welcomed the government’s decision, stating that online education is feasible only for privileged students studying in private schools, with access to resources like laptops, internet, etc. “Privileged parents are buying all sorts of electronic gadgets required for virtual education, while others - both socially and economically marginalised - cannot afford it. Though the government had introduced education through satellite TV for underprivileged students, we had noticed that their interest in studies has gradually declined. Those online classes could not retain the attention of the students,” said Chava Ravi, general secretary of Telangana State United Teachers Federation.

In September 2020, the Telangana government began classes for government school children through TSAT (Telangana Satellite network). The government had aired educational content through audio-visual mode which could be viewed on the Doordarshan network and YouTube.

Pointing out the deep digital divide between the privileged and the underprivileged, Ravi added, “There was serious discrimination being committed against these students, so we welcome this decision.”

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