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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

AAP questions move, asks govt to clarify parents’ concerns

In a statement issued here Sunday, Leader of Opposition (LoP) Harpal Singh Cheema asked the state government on the basis of which report of doctors and education experts was such a big decision taken.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
August 2, 2021 3:10:36 am
Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Punjab Assembly Harpal Singh Cheema. (File)

THE AAM Aadmi Party (AAP) has asked Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to clarify concerns of parents regarding the decision to reopen all government and private schools in the state. It also asked the government to take responsibility of and “guarantee” the health and well-being of the children.

In a statement issued here Sunday, Leader of Opposition (LoP) Harpal Singh Cheema asked the state government on the basis of which report of doctors and education experts was such a big decision taken. Cheema said this was a decision related to the lives of 60.5 lakh children, who constitute 20 per cent of the population of the state and were the future of Punjab.

Cheema said that in order to allay the worries and anxieties of lakhs of parents, the CM, School Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla, Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu and Congress state president Navjot Singh Sidhu should make it clear that the state was completely free from the Covid outbreak. “Is Punjab now completely safe from the threat of Delta variants, including the second and most talked about third wave of Covid? Shouldn’t parents and teachers be concerned that cases have been on the rise across the country for the past 3-4 days?” he asked.

The LoP further asked if all technical, medical and especially physical distance related arrangements of 6 feet as per Covid prevention guidelines have been ensured in all 19,500 government and 9,500 private schools before their opening. He also asked whether the government, in particular the departments of education and health, have assured that all 22.08 lakh students in government schools and about 38 lakh students in private schools have full provision of masks by parents or government and no student will enter the school without masks.

Cheema said that if the government had taken this sudden decision to open schools without any pressure and by thoroughly examining the potential dangers including ground reports of medical, education and technical experts, the AAP has no objection to its decision and neither do parents or the people. “Provided that the chief minister, health and education ministers take clear responsibility for these concerns and guarantee that every child who goes to school will be completely protected from the second and possibly third wave of Covid alongwith the Delta infection,” he added.

“Like everyone, we also pray for complete deliverance from the wrath and fear of Covid. We want the children to go to schools as before, as there has been a worrying stagnation in the physical and mental development of children who have been locked up at home for a year and a half. The education of children, especially from ordinary and poor families, has been severely damaged, but nothing is more than their precious lives. Our concern is with the ground realities and the latest national and international news about the Covid Delta.”

The LoP said lack of classrooms, benches, transport and other facilities alongwith the proportion of childcare teachers for 60.5 lakh students in government and private schools raises serious concerns about child safety. While there are 1, 16,442 teachers for 22.08 lakh students in government schools; there are around 1,60,000 teachers for 38 lakh students in private schools.

Cheema further said although the student-teacher ratio in government schools seems to be better than that of private schools, due to “bribery and political interference” in government schools, there are one or two teachers for every 400 children in a school (there are dozens of such examples in border and remote rural areas). On the other hand, good cities and surrounding schools have more teachers than students, he added.

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