Sunday, November 29, 2020
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State moving in reverse direction: private schools

The State government on Friday told the High Court of Karnataka that the expert committee set up to advise the State on technology-enabled education will submit its report on July 6.

Advocate-General Prabhuling K. Navadgi made these submissions during the hearing of petitions filed by parents and education institutions challenging the government’s decision of banning online classes as well as its subsequent decision to allow limited sessions of online classes up to class 10.

Appearing for private schools affiliated to CBSE, ISCE and international curriculum, Senior Counsel Udaya Holla contended that the State government cannot impose restrictions on online education to these schools under the provisions of the Karnataka Education Act.

The State government is moving in the reverse direction when international organisations such as UNICEF and the World Bank are emphasising on continuing education through online mode when the world is facing challenges from COVID-19, Mr. Holla said.

‘Only god can save us’

“We are living in the silicon valley of India and if our government does not want our children to get education during this pandemic, then only god can save us,” Mr. Holla argued while pointing that many States in the country have already moved towards online mode when the Union government itself has encouraged continuing education through this mode when it is not possible to give education in regular mode.

The decision to chose the medium of education such as language and other modalities is the domain of parents as per the apex court’s verdict and the State government cannot interfere in this field as the online mode is part of medium of education.

The government has no control over private individuals and institutions offering online classes when over 5 million students have joined them, and the ban and restrictions imposed only on the recognised schools “says everything”, he contended.

To a query by the court that can the schools make online mode mandatory, Mr. Holla said that it has be decided by schools and the parents of students depending on the need of each school.

Appearing for a group of parents, advocate Pradeep Nayak argued that when the government lacked powers to impose such restrictions on private unaided educational institutions, any recommendation to be made by the expert committee would be only recommendatory in nature and cannot be made mandatory on private unaided educational institutions.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangamswamy, which is hearing the petition, will continue further arguments on July 6.

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