Emphasis on online education by the government has meant it has turned a blind eye to the needs of children from working class and disadvantaged communities, All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) has argued, demanding a comprehensive education policy in the time of the pandemic.
“Even as the new academic year has started, the State government has no plan for children from disadvantaged and oppressed communities, especially those studying in government schools and children enrolled in public schools under the Right to Education Act quota,” a statement from the AICCTU said.
The letter draws attention to how the poor do not have facilities to invest in smart phones for their children to take online classes and how government schools have no infrastructure to conduct online classes.
“It is shocking that the government is silent on their plans to address the learning needs of children studying in government schools,” the letter said, warning this year may see more dropouts, leading to child labour and malnutrition.
The AICCTU has demanded for a consultative approach for a comprehensive education policy that may include online classes. The unions have also called for massive investment in building public school infrastructure, including establishment of neighbourhood schools and bringing this work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to generate employment. “The provision of infrastructure for access to online classes, including Internet connectivity, laptops, and school TVs,. could be part of this project,” the letter suggests. They have also demanded that local authorities provide adequate funds for provision of all necessary infrastructure for online classes for children belonging to disadvantaged groups.