25 Jan The impact of school closure on children
SOURCE- THE HINDU
Context : Amid the COVID Pandemic, when we decided to close schools for about 20 months. It only impacted our children. Schools are easy target for politicians as by doing so they want to be seen as being caring and sensitive, to “contain COVID-19”. This has brought us among the countries with the longest school closures during the pandemic.
This reaction is rather an emotional one and not have something to reason and fact. Even before the second COVID-19 wave, experts across the board advised that schools should be the last to close and first to open.
- It should be noticed that despite the hike in Omicron, most other countries have prioritised the opening of their schools, keeping the well-being of children in mind.
- The primary (emotional) “reason” being provided for school closure is to “protect children”. Let us pause for a moment and examine this reason with an analogy.
- As per the writer, data show that the risk of COVID-19 for those under 25 years is much lower than the risk from traffic accidents. So, school closures to “protect children” is as absurd as banning children from travelling in cars.
- The scientific reasons for schools as COVID-19 hotspots being the super-spreaders is very weak.
For example, a study in Spain looked at data from over 1 million children of all ages in schools, and found that the R-value (rate of virus spread) is well less than one for all schoolchildren.
R-value is as low as 0.2 for pre-primary children. So, the practice of shutting Anganwadis and primary schools is unscientific.
Sweden never closed its schools for children under 16, and there was no extra risk for teachers compared to other professions. Governments must rather look into the situations in crowded-
IS ONLINE EDUCATION A SOLUTION ?
Online education can’t replace physical classes, and children, specially in primary and pre-primary classes, can learn as well as socially and emotionally develop only through human interactions with teachers.
As per a detailed survey report from September 2021, the results of shutting down schools have been devastating.
The reading and writing levels of the students mostly children have declined. The learning issues can later be developed into mental health issues are concerning signals.
- the U.K. (increases in mental health issues among kids).
- American Academy of Pediatrics called a national emergency with respect to the mental health crisis among children.
- In India, by neglecting mid-day meals, we have worsened cases of Malnutrition.
As per the 2011 Census, we had an estimated 10.1 million children in child labour. The extended school closure have further deteriorated the issues.
The vaccination argument also defies the myth:-
- That they are safe only after children are vaccinated against COVID-19.
- The schools were open in other countries also even before adults were vaccinated.
- It is widely known now that the current COVID-19 vaccines, including the boosters also do not prevent infection or infact the transmission also.
- There is no case for linking schools and education to a vaccine still under clinical trial.
- The position of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation can be used here and as per it, there can be no question of emergency authorisation of vaccines for children as there has been no COVID-19 emergency for children.
TO CONCLUDE :
- Education is a constitutional right. Closing schools for so long and providing a poor substitute with online education, have already violated the rights of children.
- Hoping that 2022 and the years to come prove normal for children in all respects, with a good schooling and better cherishable childhood.
- Undoubtedly, Children have suffered from such irrational restrictions and school closures. Let the schools be reopen and the children may get further chances to rejoice and learnings.