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Parents’ body suggests regular review of education from village to state level post-covid

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The All India Parents Association (AIPA) is to hold state meets of its teams in the months of April-May and then it may hold a national level conclave in June in Hyderabad to reinforce and revitalize its role and stake in education administration affairs and decisions at all levels. At its national virtual meeting on April 7, the group took stock of school reopening post-covid and it was felt that parents need to be more engaged, vigilant and assertive so that issues of parents and children are not compromised in any manner.

Advocate Ashok Agarwal, President AIFA, said that the association will also target government schools so that government schools are made better. “It is not that private schools are not under pressure by our activism  but at the same time 75% f our attention must be on making government schools more functional, better and successful. While we need to sustain our work on keeping private schools stick to rules and regulations, at the same time, we need to influence governments to better their own schools,” he added.

Feeling that two-years of closure of schools due to pandemic has cropped up several issues other than learning losses, members of Mothers Committee from Andhra Pradesh suggested conducting regular reviews of schools functioning and education status from villages right up to state level, so that these issues are discussed and addressed.

Activists from Bihar informed that a large number of students who are to take admission in class 9 after passing class 8 are dropping out as there is a fee for admission, which they are not able to afford and many parents are therefore deciding against continuing education of their wards. Many a poor parents are unaware about their children studies and options and as such an awareness campaign for parents is necessary, they say. Similarly, people from Haryana say that EWS admissions in the state have been stopped and systematically the number of government schools in the state has been reduced.

Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based doctor and activist, raise the issue of masks for children and said that masks are unnecessary, doing more harm than good and should be done away with. Supporting the argument another activist said that ICMR evidence suggests that most children upto 90% were exposed to covid and have antibodies like adults and masks are actually coming in way of classroom teaching/learning.

The fee issue, which emerged as a big confrontational issue between private schools and parents during school closures and also saw an important Supreme Court ruling in May 2021 where it allowed private schools to collect 85% fee, continues to be a major issue post-covid. Parent activist from Uttar Pradesh said that private schools have gone back to old tricks of collecting money in the name of building fund, books and dress. “They cleverly change syllabus so that nobody can use last year’s books and we have decided to fight it,” added an activist from Bijnore.

People from Maharashtra raised the issue of one parent being beaten up by a school owner in Pune and informed that state’s education minister is keen to work with parents to address their issues. Activists from Odisha mentioned about a circular by state information commission where it has made disclosure by private schools mandatory. This could well become a forerunner for declaring schools as public bodies for accountability and transparency.

The activists were unanimous in demanding representation to parent association,  as suggested by Asma Goni from Kashmir, at par with other stakeholder groups in all meetings from local to national level and there were suggestions if a Supreme Court order could be obtained to this effect.

Ashok Agarawal also informed the group that he is filing a PIL against KVS for not having special educators in their schools which have an enrolment of 13.5 lakh children. Child labor and out of school children are other important issues, he outlined.

“From social audits at several places, it is becoming obvious that all children are not retuning back to schools and we will have to gather more evidence to put pressure on government,” says R Venkat Reddy, Nation Convener, M V Foundation.

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