DO NOT BAN online schooling and create policy framework

DO NOT BAN online schooling and create policy framework

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With reference to the report of Times of India, Hindustan Times and many other publications on 13th June about ‘Banning e-Classes till class 2nd' proposal of Maharashtra school education department. This is on the lines of other state governments contemplating similar move.

The reason cited in the proposal is parents complaints about the excessive screen time that children have been exposed to since the lockdown and absence of guidelines on online education.

This petition is on behalf of all the parents across the country to not allow such a move by the government(s) especially so when there is no definite date when the schools will reopen. It is important to note that:

1. The children are already confined in their houses since the time lockdown began on 24th March.

2. They have not been able to go out to play or even a normal walk across the street.

3. They haven’t met their friends and not sure when will they meet them in person again.

4. The regular routine is missing as schools help bring discipline apart from learning.

5. Increased exposure to mobiles and TV due to lack of options like outdoors, meeting friends, sports etc.

6. Kids who live in nuclear families or do not have siblings are more susceptible to mental stress and behavioural changes.

If schools are allowed to conduct e-Classes:

1. The children can continue to be creative and social with the expertise of teachers. 

2. They can keep learning online. Many start-ups in online education are an example of this medium.

3. The TV time becomes the e-Class time.

4. Brings them back to normalcy to the extent possible. After all the buzzword is ‘UNLOCK’ and not lockdown any more.

5. e-Meet their friends and engage in healthy conversations and fun-filled activities. 

6. This reduces the pressure on authorities to hasten the reopening of schools and put kids, staff and their families at risk.

7. This may also prevent the undue gain for multinational corporations who fund these online education startups at the expense of teachers from our community.

Thus, we urge the Government of India and Ministry of HRD to NOT allow states to put a blanket BAN on online classes, rather make policy and issue guidelines on how to run schools in the new avatar like:

1. Do not increase the school fees for this academic year and not charge for transportation.

2. Do not force the parents to buy new digital devices like laptops or tablets from the school, rather leave the choice to the parents.

3. Giving regular and constant breaks to kids during sessions. 

4. Support parents who need financial assistance. 

5. Option to parents who want to opt out of digital classes and admit the child in same/next session. 

6. Frequent surveys of parents and students to gauge policy changes for improvement.