The Gujarat government may not reopen schools till November, heeding suggestions from educationists, experts and academicians who unanimously opined that pre-primary section should not start this academic session, and Navratri and Diwali vacations be curtailed to compensate the lost time.
At a virtual meeting chaired by Gujarat Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama on Thursday, nearly a dozen educationists from across the state deliberated on when to resume schools as well as reduction in curriculum. It has been recommended to reduce the curriculum by 20 to 30 per cent.
“It was unanimously suggested that the schools should not reopen before November. We agree with that. All the suggestions have been taken note of. Before deciding on this, we would also consult with the health department and take opinion of health experts. A decision will be taken within a fortnight,”
During the meeting, he too had remarked that “even the state government is in no rush to resume schools as children cannot be taught at the cost of their health”.
Dr Kirit Joshi, director CN Vidyavihar, said in the meeting, “Even if we are able to develop a cure for coronavirus, we cannot resume schools before November. We can start with higher secondary classes, following social distancing and sanitisation needs strictly, for which schools need to run in three shifts.”
Echoing Joshi’s views, author and educationist Dr Bhadrayu Vachharajani said, “Do not reopen schools before November. Also, to cut on anxiety levels among children and coaching institutes fleecing parents in the name of teaching for board exams, the education department should declare that Class 10 and 12 exams will not be held before June 2021.”
Adding to this, Dr Vidyut Joshi, adjunct professor and former emeritus of Gujarat Vidyapith said, “Vacations like Diwali and Navratri can be curtailed to compensate the lost teaching days. While lower primary classes should not resume before Diwali, pre-primary should remain closed for this academic session.”
Sharing concerns of parents, Gijubhai Bharad, an educationist from Rajkot said, “Parents are not ready to send their children to school anytime soon. They are ready to drop one year. This is the feedback I received after talking to over 1,500 parents… schools should resume in November and it would be better if we can start from October.”
Sanjaybhai Raval from Ahmedabad said, “I support schools to be resumed from November 1, may be in three shifts. It should be done in phases where Class 10 and 12 should start on priority. For them, we can also start bridge courses. Pre-primary classes should not start this session. Like Unlock 1 and 2 we can resume schools in phases, both online and offline education. For interior and rural areas where internet and mobile phones are a constraint, mobile vans can be used to reach out to children.”
All educationists were of the view that there should be a reduction of 20 to 30 per cent in curriculum, after consulting with subject experts. However, they said it should be decided within a week as teaching has already started and there may be chances that schools might have covered the portions that would be cut.
“We have to reduce the curriculum but it should be decided only by the panel of experts. Also examination pattern needs to be revised,” said Dr Kirit Joshi.