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Pandemic should not result in discontinuation of education: Karnataka High Court

Covid-19 pandemic should not result in discontinuation of education, the Karnataka High Court recently observed stating that education is imperative for the progress of the country.

The remarks were made by the Court after perusing reports submitted by the State government giving details of attendance of students in classes during the pandemic period.

“Just imagine all of us, if we did not go to school. Then think of our children in the villages. Education is the most important input. Even if we are on a little less food, it is alright, but education is most important……The pandemic should not result in discontinuation of education,” the Bench headed by Justice BV Nagarathna remarked.

The Bench, which also comprised of Justice MG Uma opined that “without education, the country will not progress”.

Perusing the attendance reports of the students of classes 6 to 8, the Bench observed that the percentage of students who did not attend the classes was more in comparison with the ones who attended.

This prompted the Bench to direct the State to find out the reasons for the absence of students.

“Greater percentage are not attending the schools. Do a survey and find out why children are not attending school, are they working, have they been trafficked or are they married off,” said the Bench.

These pertinent observations were made while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking directions to the government to provide laptops, tablets, and other digital resources free of cost to enable school children belonging to economically weaker sections to attend online classes.

When the matter was taken up for hearing, the government advocate submitted that regular classes have commenced for classes 9th to 12th standard.

With respect to attendance of students in rural areas, the Court was told that it is gradually improving.

The Bench was further apprised of the fact that, for classes 6th to 8th standard, academic classes are being conducted through the State run Vidyagama programme.

Vidyagama scheme was initiated to ensure that classes are not disrupted for children, who lacked access to online classes. As per the scheme, children used to gather in batches of 10 to 15 students at a spacious place located in the vicinity of their house. All the children would be required to wear face masks, undergo thermal screening, and maintain physical distancing.

The teachers then visited the spot and taught them for two hours a day. Classes included Science, Mathematics, Social Science and English. The scheme was suspended in October after students tested positive for COVID-19.

After taking note of the reduced attendance for classes 6 to 8, the Court ordered the State to file a status report in this regard.

The Bench also raised concerns over poor attendance of 10th standard students. The attendance record produced by the State showed that only 47 percent of the 10th standard students attended classes.

“We direct that respondents to place a status report regarding percentage of attendance of students through vidyagama, as on March 1, 2021. To ascertain as to whether there is an improvement the said status report to be filed by next date of hearing,” the Court directed.

The matter will be next heard on March 16.

 

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