A plea has been moved in the Supreme Court by a Class 12 student seeking directions to the Centre, states and union territories to consider and take a time-bound decision regarding the physical reopening of schools in their respective areas and to conduct offline teaching with adequate safeguards in light of Covid-19.
The plea is seeking enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14 and Article 21 read with Article 21A of the Constitution of India and is seeking to take a holistic, equitable and speedy decision in regard to re-opening of schools to enable the student community to attend physical classes, with adequate safeguards and measures to aid and facilitate such re-opening.
The petition reads that it has been filed particularly on account of the indecision and vacillation on the part of the Union Government and several State Governments and Union Territories in the country, including the NCT of Delhi, in the matter of re- opening of schools and resumption of physical classes.
The petition claims that it is echoing the sentiments and feelings of a large body of the student community and fraternity of the country, particularly including the underprivileged and voiceless children.
The plea states that in the case of economically deprived students who cannot take resort to private tuitions or coaching, and in many cases, they have resort to manual remunerative work in the absence of regular schooling, simply to make ends meet or under pressure from their families.
The plea states that never ending deprivation of regular schooling and teaching in the congenial and academic environment of a student’s educational institution, is leaving an indelible mark on the psyche of the student community and taking a heavy toll on their wellness and psychological mental framework, leading at times to depression and social reclusiveness.
The plea has also quoted UNESCO as, “schooling provides essential learning, and when schools close, children and youth are deprived of opportunities for growth and development. The disadvantages are disproportionate for underprivileged learners who tend to have fewer educational opportunities beyond school.”
After remaining closed from April 2020 to February 2021 and re-opening for a brief period, schools across the country had been closed since the early April 2021 during the second wave of the pandemic, and after remaining closed for more than 3 months, decisions have been taken by some States to re-open schools and resume physical classes in August 2021, however, a large number of States and Union Territories including Central Schools, have yet to take a decision in regard to physical functioning of schools, which students might be able to attend in a systematic manner and an appropriate operating procedure in that regard.