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Sunday, December 05, 2021

Class divide a factor in decision to not reopen schools in Delhi: AAP’s Atishi

Atishi was part of a panel of experts speaking at the launch of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights’ new journal ‘Children First’ on Saturday. Each panelist, including members of the government, said they were in favour of schools and anganwadi centres re-opening

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: October 25, 2021 8:42:09 am
Delhi govt will help contract teachers fired by MCDs: AtishiAAP MLA Atishi (File)

Class divide is an important factor holding decision makers back from allowing schools to reopen even though many experts are in favour of it, AAP leader Atishi said in a panel discussion on Saturday.

She was part of a panel of experts speaking at the launch of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights’ new journal ‘Children First’ where each panelist, including members of the government, said they were in favour of schools and anganwadi centres re-opening.

When questioned why this was not happening if there is so much opinion in favour of it, she said, emphasising that she was speaking in her personal capacity: “… this is also because of a class divide. A lot of people who are decision makers also those in whose homes children’s education has not been disrupted… There are both kind of voices in different states and in Delhi. And you can see this even where schools have opened for class IX onward, you see that in government schools there is almost 80% attendance. Children are coming into schools because for them that is the more effective learning space. But if you look at private schools, attendance is 10%, 15%, 20%.”

Dr Vandana Prasad, convener at Public Health Resource Network, said the move could have come earlier. “Not just schools but anganwadis, childcare services, nutrition rehabilitation centres, everything is at a centre and I don’t know why we have delayed things so far. Communities are also not entirely ready, there is that. Parents are also not entirely ready, but we have seen that when we work with the community everybody recognises the need of these services and they will be very happy to send their children back.”

While Special Secretary of the Women and Child Development department Dr Rashmi Singh said the anganwadi centre had never stopped working even though the centres continue to remain closed, she said they still need to fully reopen, especially for the mothers.
“Not only because we want children to have that experience of learning, but also because there is the dimension of gender… Women who need to go to work feel that their children are safer when somebody else is taking care of them,” she said.

UNICEF India representative Yasmin Haque stated that the space socialisation and sense of normalcy that school offers is essential for children, especially in conflict situations, and Professor Krishna Rao, V-C of NLU Delhi, said opening schools should have been given greater priority than opening other spaces such as malls.

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