Admin directs schools to attend extracurricular activity whereas parent, wards, faculty worried about academic calendar   

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Clip of the rehearsal done this morning before the main event on October 31
Shimla, Oct 28
Barely a month that the government schools have opened in Himachal Pradesh and the state administration and Centre has started pressing schools students and teachers to attend extracurricular activities ignoring the lost academic school days. As most of parents, faculty members and students are struggling to complete their courses in time for the academic calendar, the authorities have issued two memos to state public schools for attending the ‘Run for Unity’  event on Oct 31.
The Schools are being directed to depute 25 NSS Volunteers to participate in Run for unity on 31 October.2021. Then to top, adding another day in the schedule the order further states,” during this occasion the NSS (Boys & Girls) contingent will also participate in the parade. The rehearsal of the parade will start on 28.10.2021 at 10.00AM.”
Pertinent to mention that Run for Unity is a event celebrated by the Center government to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel on the said day.
However many from the teaching, parents and students feel that the same is being done compromising the merit of the completion of academic activity which already being cut short due to prevailing pandemic situation.
A  memo issued by the deputy director of higher education to Principals of Govt Senior Secondary School Lalpani, Sanjauli, Chota Shimla, Phagli, Portmore and Tibetan School Chotta Shimla on Oct 26 instructed them to organize Run for unity on the occasion of National Unity Day on Oct 31.
The decisions was taken by the government and administration office in a meeting held on Oct 21, 2021 under the Chairman ship Deputy Commissioner Shimla.
Memo said that the run shall be organized on route from Ridge to Chhota Shimla Chowk ( sealed Road ) and then return back to Ridge Shimla via same route.  The ” Run for Unity ” shall be flagged off by the Chief Guest at 0800 sharp on Oct 31 from the Ridge Shimla .
The department directed the schools to send the details of Volunteers on Oct 27  2021 to participate in the run. Schools were also asked to ensure that COVID – 19 protocol strictly by the students as well as Escort teachers.
In a recent decision, due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases among students , the education department has already declared Diwali holidays from Nov 1 to 6 in the state. The same was done with an intent to break the chain of the virus. But the 4 day additional break in session will also mount the challenge for teachers, who already are running on a tight academic calendar. Many teachers reacted sharply over the wisdom of the authority to hold such extracurricular activity for government school students in the midst of a tightly scheduled academic session.
Teachers explain that with 25 students participating for such a event from every school, 3 to 4 teachers get engaged. Means in this case from 5 schools, around 12-15 teachers are involved organizing the government run event.  In a under staffed education setup, this big number of teachers out of school means loss for thousands of other students who are still at school, they rue.
A social activist informs that to add on the above stated demerit, all students involved for such government run events are from government schools and normally wards of parents with no voice. ” Otherwise which parent in today’s pandemic era would allow their kid to attend a public event like this one,” he rued. He added that it is also evident from the fact that the government directive is only for Government schools and none of the private schools may participate in it.
On the other hand science students who have to complete the lengthy courses with practical subjects are finding solution for such diktats or memo passed in the very beginning of the session, especially when it is quite evident from data that winter season is going to be harsh this year in the state.
”It is very difficult for the schools and parent to send kids for such functions,  which could be avoided, when hundreds of students are contracting to the Covid-19 in the state ” a parent admitted on the condition of anonymity.
A Central government official on October 11 had quoted to a media “We are asking states to be extra vigilant during the next 100 days, and ensure that Covid-appropriate behaviour is observed. Only then we will be able to save the country from an expected surge in cases,” he had added. Besides, in light of the festive season the Union ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) had also reiterated the need to exercise caution to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), laying out SOPs in this regard last month. Perhaps involving government school kids for such State run events during fear of pandemic times, is not a wise decision, feel retired educationists.

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