Punjab Education Minister Vijayinder Singla on Monday defended the state government’s sudden decision to open schools Class 5 onwards for physical classes saying that if people are attending weddings, jagrans and other functions, so sending children to schools should also become normal.
Meanwhile, government teachers categorically stated that syllabus for primary and middle school students should be reduced by 50 per cent at least for final exams as everyone cannot grasp the topics via online teaching.
On January 6, Punjab government had issued an order saying that classes for students from Class 5 onwards will start from January 7 onwards.
Singla, while talking with The Indian Express said, “I go and attend many weddings, jagran …I find good gatherings at such functions. Even at eating joints, people are seen enjoying dinner or lunch. All other things have opened up. Schools till middle-level were the only thing which were closed till now. So, we decided to open them as final exams are approaching. Still attendance is not compulsory for the students, and online study material will be sent as usual to them.”
Asked what was the hurry to open schools for students under 13 years of age in an overnight decision when vaccination drive was yet to begin in the country, he said, “When everything is open, social gatherings are happening, schools can also open. Still we have opened schools from Class 5 onwards. Classes till Class 4 are still closed. Class 5 and class 8 students studying in Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) government or affiliated schools are going to have their board exams and they need to be prepared well before their final state board exams. We are following all covid norms in the schools. ”
Meanwhile, Democratic Teachers Front (DTF) has asked the state government to reduce the syllabus of students from Class 5-8 by 50 per cent and not just 30 per cent. Vikram Dev Singh, state president of DTF said, ”Students are still not coming in full strength as parents are apprehensive of sending them to schools. Attendance in schools is ranging from 30 per cet to 50 per cent depending upon rural and urban areas. However, we have asked the Education Department to test their abilities rather than focusing on board exams for classes 5& 8. Not all students had grasped the subjects online and hence, teachers must think practically and reduce the syllabus. Let us judge them for their ability from less syllabus rather than to fulfil a target of 70 per cent syllabus as so far it has been decided to reduce only 30 per cent syllabus compared to last year. This year Class 5 & 8 board exams should also not be taken so as to keep the students relaxed. This way students will be away from any sort of pressure.”
He added, “We had requested the Education Secretary to think on these lines but as nothing has been done so far, DTF will be burning effigies of the Education Secretary from next week onwards, at district level.”
Ramanjit Singh, state committee member of DTF, said,”We link this sudden opening of schools to kisan andolan as well as a number of families going to Delhi and on Republic Day, their planning is for a larger gathering at Delhi borders. In addition to this, I feel that class duration for students should be not more than 3 hours, but it is from 10 am-3pm which is too much all of sudden.”
Meanwhile, government school teachers have calling parents to send their wards to schools from Class 5 onwards, but sources said that at the same time they saying that it will not be their responsibility if a child contracts Covid infection.
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