Pokhriyal to discuss COVID-19 with state edu ministers

HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal to discuss issues related to COVID-19, mid-day meals with state education ministers on April 28

Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal

Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' has called a meeting with state education ministers to discuss issues related to COVID-19 and mid-day meal programme, officials said on Monday,

The meeting will be held at 2.00 pm on Tuesday through video conferencing.

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"The HRD minister will interact with state education ministers through video call tomorrow to discuss issues like handling of COVID-19, mid-day meal programme and Samagra Shiksha programme," a senior Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry official said.

Earlier on Monday, Pokhriyal interacted with parents online and addressed various issues, including unavailability of books and uncertainty over board exams, arising due to the lockdown imposed to curb the coronavirus spread.

Universities and schools across the country have been closed since March 16 when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as one of the measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.


Later, a nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24, which has now been extended till May 3.

In March last week, the HRD Ministry had asked states and union territories to ensure continued supply of mid-day meals to students despite the closure of schools around the country to check the spread of coronavirus.

The suggestions offered included delivering packaged meals or the equivalent amount of food grains to students at home, or depositing money in the bank accounts of their parents.

The Samagra Shiksha programme is an integrated scheme for school education.

While Punjab and Karnataka have already announced summer vacations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, other states are working on academic calendar and deliberating on various measures, including advancing the summer break, to minimise academic losses.

"Education being a state subject, states are free to decide their own academic calendar and schedule for summer break. They also need to keep in mind the coronavirus situation in the particular state," the official said.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) also wrote to states and union territories last week to examine the issues of school fees payment and salaries to teachers "sensitively and holistically" keeping in mind the interest of all stakeholders.

While the Delhi government has announced that schools will not be allowed to hike fees during the period and only tuition fees will have to be paid, the Maharashtra government has said parents can complain to district education officers if schools demand fees during the lockdown period.

The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 872 and the number of cases climbed to 27,892 in the country on Monday, according to the Union Health Ministry.

The number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 20,835 while 6,184 people were cured and discharged, and one patient has migrated, the ministry said. 

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