Thin attendance in schools continues to worry education department officials in Odisha. Even though schools opened in the state on February 10, the turnout of students till date has been less than encouraging. The schools reopened for classes VIII to XII on February 10, while classes from I to VII resumed on February 28 in the state.
Buxi Jagabandhu English Medium (BJEM) School principal Sandya Jena told The Telegraph: “For the last two years, the kids have been in the comfort zone of home ambience and online examinations. Most of them are used to the virtual classes where they are not under constant watch like in the physical classrooms. Now suddenly the return to schools marks a new transition which they are finding hard to cope with. They have almost forgotten to write with pen and paper for long hours. So re-adjustment with the pre-2020 mode of studies is going to take some time.”
The principal, pointing to another problem, said: “Students, being adolescents, need to mix with others and socialise. However, having been cut off from their friend circle for a long time, they
feel isolated and re-adjustment is a challenge. Many of them are forcing their parents not to send them to schools. We need to counsel both the students and parents.”
A number of school authorities decided to go ahead with the online examination as they are aware of the fact that the students had got used to online classes and examinations during the long battle with the Covid-19. “The examination has started for classes I to IX. Most of the students prefer online examinations,” said a school teacher. However, the Class X and XII examinations would be held in accordance with the CBSE guidelines.
Another factor responsible for poor attendance in schools is the fear among parents about their children getting infected with Covid-19. “Most of the parents have either one or two kids. They don’t want to send them to schools fearing possible infection. They will wait until their child is
vaccinated,” said a school teacher.
However, both teachers and parents have agreed that long absence from schools has taken a toll on the studies and mental health of the children. Many parents say that children are reluctant to go to schools and have been pressuring them for this.
“Since the schools were closed for a long time, the children got used to objective type questions for online examinations. Now they are preferring the online examination. We want the children to come to the school and enjoy its ambience. We will try to ensure that they overcome their fear by engaging them in different types of games,” Dr Sarabadaman Singh, a teacher of DAV Public School, Chandrasekharpur, told The Telegraph.
Sabita Mohanty, a lecturer whose children are studying in an English medium school, said: “Though the school has opened for the last 25 days, my daughter who studies in Class IX is not ready to attend the school. I need time to convince her through counselling. However, she is appearing for the online examination.”
Another parent said that the children have got used to online classes and exams through computers for the last couple of years and are not ready to write using pen and paper. “My daughter Sunanda is quite comfortable with computer typing as she has hardly used pen for the last two years. Though I repeatedly ask her to complete her homework on paper, she hardly ever does it. Now she is scared of going to school,” said father Ashok Das.
Dr Seema Parija, an assistant professor in psychiatry department of SCB Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack, said: “We need to encourage kids to attend schools otherwise they will develop a number of psychological issues.”