Ensuring online learning doesn't stop for those who want to have access to it.

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The latest in the Government of Karnataka's diktats on continuing education in the COVID-19 scenario, is to impose a blanket ban online classes for students of Grades 1 - 5. Discussion is also underway to extend this to students of Grades 6 and 7. The rationale for this is the digital divide and concerns over screen time for young children. However, at best their solutions do not seem to be well thought of or even logical, since they want to replace interactive, online classes with 10 min long Youtube videos. The rest they say should be activities that the government will most likely suggest to keep the children engaged. What is happening to our children may well happen to yours!

I, as a parent, find this deeply problematic on various levels. My son who is in Grade 6 is at a very crucial formative stage. Thanks to the pandemic and being locked up at home, he was increasingly resorting to watching cartoons and playing games online. However, this has changed completely since online classes began about four weeks back. He is positively engaged, enjoys his classes and his school is providing him with a balanced, holistic education, providing him the opportunity to explore his strengths, enjoy learning, be creative and most importantly being cognisant of the screen time, giving a 15 min break between each class - in which he moves about, plays, chats. Also the short school day ensures a very healthy balance of true synchronous and asynchronous learning. It's my son's choice to continue learning. It's my choice as a parent.

All of this is set to change once again as this ban comes to force. Many children will lose motivation once again and no matter how many activities you give a child, nothing replaces human interaction, which is restricted thanks to the Pandemic. Online classes gave children the opportunity to interact with their peers without the fear of contracting the virus. 

The digital divide and the lack of access to online education is definitely a concern for lower income groups. But is the solution to this crisis, which has as it is been a major issue in India, to stop education for those who want to access it? Is it fair to deprive a child of an opportunity to learn and grow? Is it not against the basic rights of a child? The government should instead look at successful models of reaching out to underprivileged students such as Vidyagyan and Diksha, bringing to book those  schools that are exploiting the situation and charging students who fall in the RTE category and ensuring they help empower teachers to deliver better online instructions.

Hence, as a parent I urge you to help me stop this ban coming into force, no matter what part of the country you belong to. At a time like this, where we should all stand together and fight the Pandemic together, the government here is disrupting a process that has been running smoothly. This is a precedent we cannot allow to be set. Our children should be allowed to access education if they want to.