'Best way forward is to open schools with precautions'

'Best way forward is to open schools with all precautions'

Anupama Ramakrishnan of DH in conversation with Niranjanaradhya V P of the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. Excerpts:

On how the current situation reflects on our education system

Mushrooming of private schools is a pre-Covid phenomenon. Increasing privatisation and commercialisation of education is the root cause of the problem in the education system. Teacher education needs to be completely revamped to get qualified and competent teachers. Unfortunately, 90% of the pre-service teacher education institutions are in the private sector. Most of the states are facing an acute shortage of trained teachers as per the RTE Act.

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The government should increase its investment in establishing premier teacher education institutions. The issue is being discussed elaborately in the National Education Policy 2020. The State needs to prepare a blueprint for the implementation.

On whether children who go to private unaided schools are now deprived of learning

Some kind of learning is happening for children in private unaided schools since they have access to technology and online education. The worst affected are the children in the government and government-aided schools, as well as children from disadvantaged and economically weaker sections in the private unaided schools.

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There is a fear that children staying away from school will engage in child labour or child bonded labour. Child trafficking, violence, child marriage and child beggary is already on the rise. This will take away the fundamental rights of children for care, protection, nutrition and good quality education.

On the way forward for government and these schools

The best way to move forward in the current situation is to open schools from KG to PG with all precautions and safety measures without creating further fear and anxiety in the name of Covid. Teachers will get motivated once the schools reopen.

Also Read | 'Private school teachers are always overstretched and stressed'

On Bridging the learning gap

Conducting a kind of bridge course will be a good start. Creating community learning centres for children after school hours to continue the learning process is also a good idea. . The academic staff such as CRCs, BRCs, BRPs and DIET faculty can be deployed for the current academic year to supplement the teacher’s efforts to bridge the learning gap