Lucky ones set to join schools, children from weaker sections may have hit dead end

By: Afaq Bhat

Srinagar: Students are happy as schools are set to reopen in Kashmir after a gap of more than two years. The lucky ones are returning as their parents could afford to keep them in touch with the online classes through digital gadgets but many children from weaker sections of the society have already called it quits as their families couldn’t provide them with the smart phones and internet facilities.

“The pandemic hit the children hard as it led to the education system getting paralyzed. Private schools managed to keep their children enrolled but the many government schools couldn’t follow the suit as the students enrolled in these institutions were unable to remain in touch with their studies due to one or other reason,” said an observer.

He said, “Due to the pandemic, many people lost their jobs. In order to support their families young teenage boys took up menial jobs. It seems that they have left behind the schools and are shouldering the responsibilities of their families from a tender age. Many of them are unlikely to return to their institutions.”

A principal of a private school said, “Many private institutions have pulled down the shutters as they couldn’t survive the pandemic induced lockdown. The Covid-19 didn’t spare anyone. The institutions that have survived will take a long time to put their things at place.”

An analyst said, “The children who won’t return to school can be many but they can be helped. The Education Department needs to frame a strategy to bring these children back to schools they can’t be left to fend on their own. Their families need to be told that these children are our future and they cannot be deprived of education.”

He said, “A proper survey needs to be conducted to know the exact number of students who don’t want to return to schools due to one or other reason. These students couldn’t attend online classes due to obvious reasons but now, the offline classes are set to commence. The children who are living under financial constraints can be identified and brought back to schools. Letting them go can have far reaching consequences.”

A teacher said, “Providing elementary education is a must and it cannot be ignored. If we allow children from weaker sections of the society to opt out from the education system it can lead to others following their footsteps. They may have missed out two years of education but they can still be brought back.”

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