Pooja Poddar Marwah

Open the schools, please!

The coronavirus caused a furore across the world. Limited knowledge about this new strain left many a people anxious, nervous and even resentful!

What initially began as a forced vacation grew into alarming cases of domestic violence, neglected children and economical difficulty. But still we survived. The second wave caught us unawares and hit even closer home than any of us could have ever imagined. We all lost someone, we all felt despair, hopelessness.. But still we survived.

As we slowly limp back to what we once knew as normalcy, deep inside us, we have all changed; some for the better and others for the worse. In this continuous battle of emotions between the adults, somewhere it was the children of the Country that felt most neglect. Left to fend for themselves, without the internet, scores of schools in rural India were forced to shut down. Children couldn’t afford a mobile or connectivity to partake the online classes. Urban India faced another dilemma of sorts as young toddlers took to their ipads and fancy iphones to log into their IB schools and learn about alphabets. They very quickly understood apps, games and gradually lost themselves to a world that only existed on a screen.

Children of all ages faced the brunt of overworked parents, agitated and even hostile at times. They began growing inwards, glued to a phone for company, for entertainment, for education and even for pornography. Predators loomed large waiting to befriend lonely  young children, girls and boys both.

It is a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, but one that our Government needs to take with immediate effect. With shops, markets, offices and places of entertainment opening up, schools need to be given precedence. We have to give to the future of our Country, its rightful happy generation. Technology is a prerequisite but it cannot be allowed to replace a face to face conversation or a physical game of hockey or basketball. Children need to interact with their peers in an offline scenario so they can grow into healthy individuals, not cocooned inside!

It is a tough call to make but one that needs to be taken. Safety is of foremost importance and with stringent rules in place, schools must be allowed to open its doors. Education is the only way to empower a child and shield them from the caregivers’ anxieties. Children with special needs are pushed back into a darkness that is slowly engulfing them and if we as a society overlook this, we ourselves are walking towards an abyss.

Boarding schools as well as day schools should be given the green signal to open its doors for the only way for children to grow is if they are at a place that stimulates them mentally, that pushes them physically and lets them understand a world that is of face to face interaction, and not confined to a measured online screen.

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