Even as Odisha today announced rebooting the pandemic hit education system in the State, the moot question nagging every mind is has the State Government vaccinated all the teachers (taking classes for Std 9-12) across the State?
This assumes significance because, Lancet Covid-19 Commission's India Task Force recently has clearly recommended that before opening schools, first ensure vaccination of teachers, school staff and school bus drivers on a priority basis.
Even Unesco has also recommended that teachers need to be vaccinated fully before opening up the schools. "Teachers need to be taken as priority group irrespective of their age," observed the Unesco report.
But when the SME department has today announced the opening of schools in a graded manner from July 26, there is no mention about only vaccinated teachers taking classes across the State.
Teacher Vaccination: India Status Report
Odisha became the 12th State to open educational institutions. The following states have allowed the beginning of the new academic session from July. And where teachers have been vaccinated on a priority basis.
- West Bengal
- Madhya Pradesh
- Tamil Nadu
- Andhra Pradesh
- Uttar Pradesh
Schools Opened In States
- Punjab: Only colleges and higher Edu institutions on the condition that all teaching and non-teaching staff have taken at least one dose of vaccine 14 days before the opening date.
- Gujarat: Colleges and technical institutes opened but with a capacity of 50 per cent only.
- Bihar: Opened schools from July 6. Special immunisation camp for teachers held.
- Haryana: Schools opened but to function with 50 per cent capacity.
- Maharashtra: The Covid-19 epicentre in India, has opened schools in areas where not a single Covid-19 positive has been detected in the last 30-days.
- Andhra Pradesh: After announcing a special vaccination drive for teachers, the State has decided to open schools from Aug 16.
The Other Story
With the introduction of the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system from the current academic year for Class 10 and 12, the Odisha School and Mass Education (SME) department has conceded to the chinks in this year's annual High School Certificate (HSC) results that were declared last month.
Post the declaration of the Class 10 results with over 97 per cent pass out rate and 'zero' schools in zero results category, the prime argument of academicians and students had been that the alternative evaluation carried a bias for 'academically weak' schools.
"The basic flaw of this year's evaluation is lack of uniformity. In the regular board exams conducted every year, a uniformity is usually maintained as the question papers were set by BSE. However, in this year's alternative assessment, school practice tests have been the determinants of the final result. And in school practice tests, the questions are usually prepared by the respective school administration," explained academician Sadashiv Swain.
Significantly, while announcing the decision of reopening schools in a graded manner from July 26, SME Secretary Satyabrata Sahu said, "We appeal all students to henceforth take every practice test seriously. The question papers will be framed by the BSE and will be dispatched to every school. In case any pandemic exigency arise in future, and the final exam couldn't be conducted, the marks in the practice tests will then decide the final result."
The Digital Bumps
As per the statistics provided by Sahu, a whopping 6 lakh students studying in classes 9 and 10 were unable to have access to the online classes. The figures show a majority of school-going children in the State have failed to avail the benefits of online education initiated by SME following the shutdown of schools due to the pandemic.
Academic Session Lost
The statistics released by the SME secretary shows out of 190 working days in an academic year, a total of 150 academic days were lost due pandemic in the academic year 2020-21. In proportional terms, nearly three in every 4 school days were lost to pandemic.
As per a recent UNESCO report, India and Bangladesh are the two countries where educational institutions have remained closed for 60 weeks - the highest in the world - in 2020-21.