Karnataka, June 12: Confusion arose as Karnataka ministers contradict decisions over online class ban for school students. The Karnataka state government on Thursday ordered the containment of all online classes for classes up to fifth grade. On Friday, Karnataka Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, J C Madhuswamy, informed the state about the cabinet’s decision to extend the ban on online classes till Class 7, while S Suresh Kumar, State Education Minister, contradicted Madhuswamy by saying that the extension on the ban was just a “suggestion” made during the cabinet meeting and “not a government decision”.
Suresh Kumar said in a rather puzzling tweet, “Karnataka government has decided to stop all online classes for LKG, UKG, and classes up to the fifth standard. To extend this up to the seventh standard is only a suggestion from a few cabinet ministers as expressed in an informal discussion and NOT a decision.” He further said that even pre-recorded classes should be stopped “with immediate effect” for students studying till the fifth standard. He went on to say that “The (Education) Department will decide whether to allow pre-recorded sessions based on the report submitted by the expert committee which is expected within ten days.”
An official order with detailed guidelines on how to hold online classes is awaited from the Karnataka government.
A wide range of views from educationists and psychologists revolving around the issue of the efficacy of online classes for young children have surfaced:
- “More than 90 per cent of India’s population does not have the required equipment”, said Dr Madhav Chavan, co-founder of Pratham Education Foundation.
- Dr. Ishita Mukherjee, Senior Psychologist, said that online classes create a sense of isolation and can have adverse effects on a school child’s mental health.
- Dr Girish Chandra, Senior Consultant (Psychiatry) at Aster CMI Hospital in Bengaluru, said “School authorities need to be aware that the average attention span of kids at these ages is 10-20 minutes. Keeping longer hours will not promote learning but only lead to fatigue.”
The administration should further keep a watch on incidents like that of a Kerala girl child committing suicide on failure of not being able to attend online classes, recently during the COVID 19 pandemic.
Also, ‘Zoom fatigue’ is a prevalent phenomenon noticed in adults during the COVID lockdown period.