By Sapana Thami, Kathmandu, Apr. 18: In the last month, 10 per cent of the students at the school level were found to be infected with the novel coronavirus.
Following the surging infection rate among children and youths, the Ministry of Health and Population has time and again requested to halt the physical classes at educational institutions. However, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology has appealed to schools and colleges to operate physical classes in shifts to avoid crowding.
Likewise, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City has also issued a directive, urging schools to shut physical classes for a week if any student or teacher is found infected with the virus.
Moreover, the educationalists have been voicing that teaching and learning should be given continuity with the help of alternative methods.
Students' health utmost priority
Educationalist Prof. Dr. Man Prasad Wagle said that amid the ongoing pandemic, protecting student's health should be the foremost priority of all. "Which one is better? Preventing the infection or curing after infection? Thus, the time has come to halt physical classes and resume alternative teaching system again."
Dr. Wagle said that the effect of the virus on students was more alarming than the effect of the pandemic on the Education Ministry's educational calendar. He also suggested the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and other stakeholders prepare the academic year by anticipating the situation of the nation during the upcoming three years.
Similarly, Prof. Dr. Bidhya Nath Koirala, another educationalist, stressed effectively implementing the authority given to the local levels regarding the operation of schools.
"During the pandemic, it is vital to ascertain the view of students, parents, and teachers before taking any decision as to continuing or closing the schools," he said.
He added that the alternative teaching and learning methods were not effective especially in the villages during the nationwide lockdown last year. "The education system in rural areas has moved a year backward due to the inability of deploying teachers at local levels. Even though all the authorities relating to school have been given to the local level government, prevalence of politics have made a huge impact on education fraternity," he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the National Private and Boarding School's Organisation Nepal (N-PABSON) Ritu Raj Sapkota said that the parents did not find teaching and learning through alternative measures outside the schools to be effective. "Thus, the situation has not come to shut the schools yet," he said.
"We will comply with the decision of the Education Ministry, however, we must also address the concerns of parents and guardians," said Chairman Sapkota.