The clamor for the reopening of schools in Haryana is growing in the state, with people in rural areas demanding that schools for junior grades should also be reopened at the earliest. Haryana so far, keeping the Covid pandemic in mind, has only allowed offline lessons for students in grades 10-12.
In two Haryana villages – Dhani Sanchla and Bhuthan Kalan – in Fatehabad district, a number of villagers – along with their wards – reached government schools on Wednesday to ‘demand’ that in-person classes resume with immediate effect. When teachers refused to hold offline classes while citing government instructions, some youths from these villages stepped forward and held the classes, an education department officer confirmed.
Villagers, including women from Dhani Sanchla village, later even burned the effigy of Education Minister Kanwar Pal Gurjar to express their resentment. Demanding the reopening of schools, they also launched slogans such as “Baccha-baccha Kare Pukar, School Khol de Khattar Sarkar” and “Corona Ek Bahana Hai, Shiksha ko Meetana Hai”.
Villagers said they had been holding dharnas for eight days demanding the reopening of schools.
A villager, Satbir Singh, said: “The young people in the village have taken the responsibility to organize basic classes so that the education does not stop. Our dharna will continue until the government does not allow schools to reopen for all grades.
When contacted, an education department official said a similar request had been made by residents of Mochiwali, Baijalpur and Diwana villages in Fatehabad district and Bithmara and Kaliraman villages in Hisar district.
Sources said more villages could join the protests in the coming days if schools are not reopened for primary grades soon.
By the way, two days ago, teachers from some private schools, as well as some parents, organized a protest march in Ambala to demand the reopening of schools. The state chairman of the Federation of Private School Welfare Associations, Kulbhushan Sharma, who was one of the protesters, said at the time: “In a survey conducted by the federation, we found that up to 87% of more than 18,000 parents – who participated in the exercise – favored the reopening of schools. Children aged 5-6 have been enrolled in schools but have never seen their schools in person as educational institutions have been closed for the past two years due to the ongoing pandemic. On the other hand, the new education policy emphasizes the importance of primary education.
The Haryana government, amid growing demand from private schools and villagers, had previously allowed offline lessons to resume for students in grades 10, 11 and 12 in private and public schools from February 1. .
Asked about the protests for the reopening of junior classes, Education Minister Gurjar told the Indian Express: “We have already cleared classes for the 10-12 standard. We will see the answer for these classes. We may allow more classes if there is no risk. In the next stage, we will open schools for grades 6 to 9. If this goes well, the junior classes will then be allowed to reopen.
The minister further said: “The Covid pandemic is on the decline, but it has not completely disappeared. Most students in grades 10-12 have been vaccinated. But there is no vaccine for students in the junior classes.
Meanwhile, reports showed that up to 24% of standard 10-12 students in public schools showed up for lessons on February 2, which was the second day schools reopened. On the first day, February 1, only 22% of the students had attended the lessons. The state chairman of the Federation of Private Schools Welfare Associations, Kulbhushan Sharma, meanwhile claimed that student attendance for 10 to 12 classes was over 70 percent.
A week ago, Haryana Education Minister Kanwar Pal Gurjar said, “We have decided to start classes for students in grades 10 to 12 while following Covid standards as before. Online classes will also continue, but those wishing to come to school can also take classes offline. No less than 75% of children aged 15 to 18 have already been vaccinated. I feel they are very safe now. Otherwise too, the Covid pandemic is under control.