New lease of life for education | Daily News
Back to School after two years:

New lease of life for education

Nearly 3,800 primary schools islandwide with less than 200 students commenced classes yesterday after a lapse of almost two years. The schools were closed as a result of the Covid pandemic. Attendance by both teachers and students was reported to be very good.

The classrooms had been cleaned earlier by the parents and school authorities had taken all health measures. All students and teachers were wearing face masks and they washed their hands before entering the classrooms. The students worshipped their teachers and engaged in religious observances before the day’s lessons began.

However, the first few days of school will be spent conditioning the students to school life again after a long hiatus instead of formal lessons. Many rural students could not access online lessons in any case due to the lack of devices and 4G signals and the teachers also kept away from online lessons as a result of trade union action led by teachers’ unions. This strike has now been resolved and all teachers have pledged to come to work from October 25. Yet, most of the teachers in the reopened schools reported to work yesterday.

Police were present at all schools to ensure security for teachers and other staffers and the students. PHIs and health and education officials were also seen at many schools, checking the teachers’ and students’ adherence to health guidelines. The students were glad to see their teachers and friends after a long time. Educationists say that nothing can beat in-person learning, as a school imparts many important values other than textbook knowledge, such as discipline, team work, friendship, obedience, unity and of course, play. These values cannot be imparted over the Internet, however much technology has advanced over the years. Nevertheless, the authorities are now likely to opt for ‘hybrid’ learning – a mix of physical and online learning.

Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena thanked all the teachers and students who attended school yesterday. Minister Gunawardena said the Government has taken all possible measures to rectify the salary anomalies of teachers even amidst the pandemic situation.  

Speaking to the Daily News, the Minister said that everyone in the education system is duty bound to bring school education to normality as it is linked with the future of future generations. Therefore he believes that all teachers attached to the schools which reopened will report for duty eagerly over the next few days.

Meanwhile, the health sectors urge students, parents and all others linked with the school system to follow health guidelines strictly. A set of guidelines has already been issued to schools aiming to prevent spreading Coronavirus in the school premises. Besides, people who run school canteens are strongly advised to abide by health regulations when providing their services.          

“COVID-19 health guidelines will stringently be followed in the school premises so as to ensure the protection of the entire school community,” the Education Minister added.

There are plans to recommence other schools promptly, especially the Advanced Level classes under the second phase of the school reopening programme. Accordingly, the vaccination of Advanced Level students is now underway islandwide.   

(Pictures by Dushmantha Mayadunne, Samantha Weerasiri, Amila Prabath Wanashinghe and T.L. Jawfer Khan) 


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