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#RightToLearn: Parents tweet-protest online education ban

June 20, 2020

Parents from Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh will join forces on Twitter tomorrow to protest the ban imposed by their governments on online schooling for pre-primary and primary classes.

In all three states, many parents have protested the ban saying that it curtails their freedom to choose the way they want to educate their children. Many educators have also called for better guidelines and have warned that a complete ban on online schooling will result in children missing out on social, psychological, academic and cognitive learning opportunities that are crucial for their age.

To protest the ban, parents from all three states will take part in a Tweet Storm on Sunday the 21st of June from 2 pm to 5 pm, with the hashtag #righttolearn.

Parent groups like Universe of Moms (UNIMO), Indore Mothers (INMO), and First Moms Club are also part of the groups rallying against the ban.

In Karnataka, the ban extends from pre-primary all the way up till grade 5. In Maharashtra, the ban extends from pre-primary and grade 3. The Madhya Pradesh government has banned online schools until grade 5.

Swati Popat Vats, president, Early Childhood Association, says banning online classes is not a solution but would invite more trouble. “Children will lose social-emotional bonding and screen time will increase on apps like YouTube. Please don’t ignore and undervalue the importance of early and primary years’ development. How is random engagement on TV better than guided fruitful engagement? The only alternative to sending children to schools is a brief online engagement with teachers. A brief one-hour video chats with qualified teachers will ensure continuity of formal early childhood education and contribute immensely to their foundation of life,” she says.  

Instead of a blanket ban, the protesting parents believe that the governments should offer guidelines to support better online learning experiences, including a cap on screen time. They argue that if parents don’t have access to online schooling, they will be forced to use unregulated online classes and apps for young children. Such apps can be detrimental because there is no cap on screen-time there and they are also more academic in focus, unlike the more holistic and teacher-driven school programs. The ban on online schooling will merely serve to increase ‘bad’ screen time, with children spending more time on online games like PUGB, Fortnite or idly watching TV.

With parents being concerned about sending their children to school during the prevailing pandemic, they believe that unless the healthcare situation is substantially resolved, they will not send their children to schools and in the meantime, children should not stop learning and connecting with their teachers and peers.

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