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By Naveen Nair

Following a State Child Rights Commission’s order, five district collectors in Kerala have issued a strict warning to schools in the state not to advance their opening days or to conduct special classes during the two months on- going vacation. This is due to the extreme heat wave that is sweeping across the state. More districts are expected to bring out such orders in the coming days.

The State Child Rights Commissionhas also written to the Director of Public Instructionnot to cut short vacation of students when the state is facing an extreme summer and to strictly enforce the full duration of the holidays.

“We have issued orders to the DPI and the Education department to ask schools irrespective of their board affiliations not to conduct classes under the present circumstances. To force children to attend classes under such extreme heat is criminal and even if one child is affected, concerned school will be held liable,’’ says ShobhaKoshy, Chairperson, State Child Rights Commission

Most schools in Kerala usually start classes from May 2 for students from Class IX upwards, although the official vacations are till May 30. Although government schools had stopped it following a DPI order in 2015 , most private schools openly flout it.

But after the State unit of the Disaster Management Authority issued a strict warning asking people not to step out of homes between 11am and 3pm, it was the Thiruvanathapuramdistrict collector who cracked the whip first. 

The collector had issued an order asking schools not to open till May 20.

On Monday morning, a private school in Thiruvanathapuram has had its electricity supply cut off and its buses seized by the district administration after the collector’s orders were openly defied. The SreeGokulam Public School in the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram might also end up losing its fitness certificate for this open defiance.

The education department is also now conducting regular inspections in schools to ensure the order is adhered to. “No school will be allowed to conduct classes when the temperature is so high as it will affect the health of the children. Strict action will be taken against those who violate the orders,’’ said GireeshCholayil, Dictrict Deputy Director of Education.

But Schools argue that they are under tremendous pressure from the parents and authorities to ensure that portions are completed for the students and they do not have any choice but to conduct classes during vacations too.

Schools also cite a Kerala High Court order which says that schools should ensure that 1000 instructional hours are met during every academic year. Due to frequent holidays and hartals called by political parties in the state, this can hardly be met argue the school authorities.

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