Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee has asked the West Bengal government to open schools immediately.
Interestingly, for the last two years Abhijit Banerjee is also the head of the Global Advisory Committee created by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to help the state in fighting Covid.
Virtually speaking from the US at a seminar organised by Annual Status Report of Education (ASER), the world-famous economist said, "It is unfortunate that the students of Class five cannot do the sums of Class two. From this it is evident that a section of the students cannot catch up with the present form of education. They are being left back. This cannot be a good sign for the education system of the state as well of the country".
The Nobel laureate, who has been a strong critic of the economic policies of the country, advised all the state governments, particularly the West Bengal government, to open schools immediately. According to him, the normal school going process and the students' attending the classes will bring them back to the school and this is important for the education system of the country.
According to the report, during the pandemic period, 90 per cent of the students have enrolled themselves in the school, but the reading level dropped below 10 per cent. This is especially true in case of students of first and second standard, who could not go to the Anganwadi centres due to overcrowding. They are facing the most challenging threat. This amply suggests how the quality of education has been compromised for the last one year.
"The states should try and open the schools so that the children from underprivileged sections of the society can develop the habit of reading and going to school," Banerjee said.
The report also indicates that the students going to government schools are the most sufferer in this case. They neither have access to the newer technologies nor they have proper resources to continue on with their studies. The availability of smartphones has increased from 36.5 per cent in 2018 to 67.6 per cent in 2021. However, more children in private schools have smartphones at home (79 per cent) as opposed to government school going children (63.7 per cent).
The state government has recently announced physical classes from Class 7 to Class 12 and alternatively developed a mechanism of schools in the neighbourhood where the students between class up to Class 7 will have their classes in the neighbouring areas only.