Schools Closure Results in Child Marriages

New Delhi: The hazards of not reopening schools after prolonged closure due to the Covid pandemic are “too serious to be ignored”, according to a parliamentary panel. The committee has noted that the closure of schools has not only impacted social fabric of families in a negative manner, it has also increased involvement of children in household chores.

“The closure of schools for over a year has had a deep impact on the wellbeing of students, especially their mental health. The hazards of not opening the schools are too serious to be ignored. The confinement of young children within the four walls of the house, being unable to attend school, has altered the relationship between the parent and the children adversely. The closure of schools has impacted the social fabric of the family in negative manner leading to early/child marriage and increased involvement of children in household chores. The present situation has exacerbated the learning crisis that existed even before the pandemic with the marginal and vulnerable children getting adversely affected. Keeping this situation in mind, it becomes all the more imperative to open schools,” the panel noted.

This week, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports tabled in Parliament its report “Plans to bridge the learning gap caused due to school lockdown as well as review of online and offline instructions and exams and plans for reopening of schools” headed by Vinay P Sahsrabudhe. The seriousness of the matter should not be overlooked and a well balanced reasoned view may be taken for opening up of the schools, the panel said.

Accentuating vaccine programmes for all students, teachers and allied staff so that schools may start functioning normally at the earliest; holding classes on alternate days or in two shifts to thin out students along with observance of physical distancing and compulsory wearing of face masks at all times, frequent hand sanitisation etc; regular thermal screening at the time of attendance and conducting random RT-PCR tests to identify and isolate any infected student, teacher or staff immediately, are among the recommendations for reopening of schools made by the panel.

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