HRD Ministry working on SOP for online classes – priority to be given on students’ screen time and mental health

While e-learning platforms have come as a relief for the education sector especially amid the pandemic, students and parents are complaining that their screen time has surged and therefore, they are increasingly dealing with issues like eye strain. With classes starting as early as 8 am till 1 or 2 pm with only few minutes’ breaks in between, what may have sounded ‘fun’ for students when the lockdown was initially imposed is turning out to be challenging, adding to it the fact that young kids have less attention span than adults.

To address the challenge, the HRD Ministry is preparing Standard Operating Procedures for online classes, taking the complaints of students and parents into consideration. “On one hand, schools did not permit mobile phones within their premises and discouraged their use for students and now suddenly they are dependent on electronic devices the whole day. A balance has to be maintained to ensure there is a healthy approach,” a senior official of the ministry said. The guidelines are being prepared in such a way that students learn at their own pace rather than force themselves to keep up with their peers – one of the major downsides of the traditional brick and mortar learning system.

For a change, the guidelines will primarily focus on prioritising mental health of students and ensuring a safe and secure learning environment which is the need of the hour. Though online learning platforms have made education accessible to all, the fact that children are spending seven to eight hours a day in front of screen cannot be overlooked. “When we began with the thrust on e-learning, the focus was more on access to e-learning. Technology without equity will not lead to effective learning in all our children,” said School Education Secretary Anita Karwal. At times, even the quality of education has been compromised while delivering online and therefore, another key area of focus of the HRD Ministry is to ensure the quality of education and make it as engaging and interactive as possible.

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