Cartoons and games children watch and play for hours on mobile phones, laptops and other gadgets must be made “meaningful” so that they could impart lessons in “culture, discipline and religion,” Gujarat Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said on Sunday.
He was responding to a query on online teaching for children of primary schools in view of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Chudasama, along with Minister of State for Primary and Higher Education Vibhavari Dave, and education department officials had on Saturday held a “digital conversation” with pediatricians, psychologists and educators to get views on online education for primary schoolchildren.
“Participating in the discussion, he said it is a matter of concern at home that a child watches cartoons and plays games for hours on a phone, tablet or laptop from morning till evening, which does not impart lessons in culture, discipline or religion.
As an alternative to that, he said let us make cartoons that are more meaningful than existing cartoons.
“Games should also be meaningful, and they should be made in such a way that children like them more than what they see now,” said Chudasama, state Minister of Education (Higher and Technical), in a Facebook post.
He added that the Gujarat government has blended physical and digital education for the last three months and has achieved “unexpected success” in a very short time.
“It seems this method will be set early in older children, but the issue of whether to do it online for the students of Class 1 to 5, and when to do it, is under discussion,” he said.
The Gujarat High Court had, in a recent order, asked the state government to work out modalities with schools regarding online teaching, and to consider whether it was advisable for very small children.
“We are saying so because a child studying in nursery or in the first or second standard may remain exposed for a long time to the screen of the television or laptop or computer. This may affect not only the eyes of the small child, but also his overall health. Experts are also of the view that children below five years of age should not be imparted online education,” the High Court had said.
The HC also suggested that the government regulate the timing of such education as a middle class family with three children cannot afford more than one laptop, computer or television, which may deprive other children of the benefits of online teaching.