Even as schools in the national capital remain shut due to air pollution, it has sparked a debate on whether it is doing any good.
On the one hand, educators and parents have been seeking resumption of classes. On the other, experts say that polluted air could be extremely detrimental for the health of children.
The Delhi government has said that they will be forwarding two applications on behalf of the education department to the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) suggesting that schools, colleges and coaching institutes for students from Class 6 onwards be opened immediately, and classes for primary section to Class 5 be resumed from 20 December.
Earlier, on 2 December, the Supreme Court slammed the Delhi government for opening schools despite severe air pollution. A day later, the Delhi government had declared schools shut from 3 December. The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant, observed that parents were working from home while children had to go to school.
Schools had opened for all classes in November only to be shut two weeks later due to air pollution. They were opened again on 29 November and shut from 3 December.
'Learning Gaps a Matter of Concern'
In an interview with The Quint, Dr Ameeta Mulla Wattal, Chairperson, DLF Schools and Scholarships, spoke about the learning gap that has been wedged by the lack of offline classes.
“We have to look at how our young children are moving forward because this is a foundational stage, and a foundational stage is when the basis of the education is built. We must ensure that the kids have a basic literacy, numeracy, study programme in place,” she added.
She further said that creative solutions could be designed such as reassessing the academic calendar.
“We have to look at how our young children are moving forward because this is a foundational stage, and a foundational stage is when the basis of the education is built. We must ensure that the kids have a basic literacy, numeracy, study programme in place.”Ameeta Mulla Wattal, Chairperson, DLF Schools and Scholarships
Meanwhile, Jai Dhar Gupta, Clean Air Activist and Entrepreneur, says the Supreme Court was justified in its move saying, “We have a twin-demic right now – COVID as well as air pollution, and both create an oxidative stress on the body. One is a respiratory poison, which is air pollution, and the other is a respiratory virus that creates an oxidative stress. Let’s keep that in mind as well.”
Santosh Harish, Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, whose area of study is air quality management, says that it requires some rethinking because the disruption caused by shutting schools is not worth the uncertain benefits that it generates.
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