Health Hazards of Online Classes on School Students in Covid-19 Pandemic

Photo: Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister, Delhi
Photo: Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister, Delhi

Health Hazards of Online Classes on School Students in Covid-19 Pandemic

I sent the following representation to Delhi chief minister Mr. Arvind Kejriwal with the request to stop the online school classes immediately to protect the health and rights of students to live in a healthy and trouble-free environment.

To                                                                                                                                 July 22, 2021

Mr. Arvind Kejriwal
Chief Minister
Delhi

Copy: Director (School Education), Delhi

Subject: Health Hazards of Online Classes on School Students in Covid-19 Pandemic

Dear Mr. Kejriwal,

I am a journalist and social activist. I run various field campaigns to save Delhi school education which has already lost its relevance. Now, the online classes being held by various schools – particularly the private schools – during the pandemic are having a disastrous impact on the health and personality development of students. 

There are increased risks of online exploitation of children when they are exposed to online learning as a replacement to the traditional in-school education. UNICEF warns that millions of children are at increased risk of harm as their lives move increasingly online during lockdown in the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The UN agency says that the school students are now taking classes as well as socializing more online. Spending more time on virtual platforms can leave children vulnerable to online exploitation and unstructured time online may expose children to potentially harmful and violent content as well as greater risk of cyberbullying, UNICEF has said. 

Thus, online education can have serious consequences on children’s mental health and personality development. Health experts also warn that regular online classes can seriously harm children’s physical health and growth because the online environment in most homes is not conducive to learning. Poor ergonomics, constant watching of electronic screens, and limited space at homes can cause long-term health problems as well as inferiority complex among children because they do not get fully satisfied with the online instructions.

The information overload and burdensome online examinations without adequate teaching are among the other irritants that most young learners face in this erratic learning environment. According to reports, many students believe that online learning is only a formality and not a real substitute for regular teaching. 

In another report, UNICEF reveals that 31 percent of schoolchildren worldwide (463 million) cannot be reached by the broadcast- and Internet-based remote learning policies either due to the lack of necessary technological assets at home, or because they were not targeted by the adopted policies. 

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The worst part of online teaching is that the teachers are not fully trained to hold online interactions with students in a viable environment. They do not know how to equitably engage with all the students in an online class. Most private schools are holding online classes regularly without any break because they want to justify the extortion of unjustified fees that they force parents to pay while the schools are closed.

We know that the quality of education in Delhi’s government as well as private schools is already bad. Now it is going from bad to worse with the imposition of online classes. The current education system in schools is based on archaic syllabuses and obsolete pedagogy which cannot make students employable in the contemporary job market. 

As a result, the joblessness is spreading like a pandemic disease and the students taught under this stale system cannot be called educated, as they never get ready for any work that can give them proper employment. That’s why almost all the professional degree holders are ready to take low-level jobs meant for uneducated people.

When the school education is already meaningless, the students should not be troubled with the scourge of online education which is harming their physical as well as mental health. We need to save the lives and health of students.

REQUEST FOR ACTION

In view of the facts stated above, you are requested to:

1. Stop the online school classes immediately to protect the health and rights of students to live in a healthy and trouble-free environment.

2. Revamp the entire school education system – including syllabuses, pedagogy, and teachers’ training – to impart relevant modern education to students so that they could work in the emerging hybrid job market environment.

3. Start an exclusive G2C (government-to-citizen) service where students and parents could inform the government about the excesses that schools are committing upon them.

Please let me know if I can help your government achieve the modern education objectives.

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