Govt. considering several options on school closure: PM

Yangchen C Rinzin 

There is no definite duration on how long schools and institutions will remain closed although all the education institutions closed since March 5 following Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering.

Prime minister said the re-opening of schools would depend on the situation, as the closing of educational institutions was one of the many measures opted to practice physical distancing and gathering.

Lyonchhen said education ministry was instructed to work on options and come up with the solutions should the school closure extend beyond June.

Many teachers and students said that with no definite duration declared by the government, they were confused. Google classes that some schools adopted have started becoming a hassle.

Some teachers expressed that even as they want to join other activities or go to their villages, they were not sure when schools would be re-opened. Many are also worried about the syllabus coverage.

Students, although follow the Tele-education aired on BBS, are not sure whether an assessment would be done for the lessons broadcast on television. Many students do not have access to such facilities.

Lyonchhen said that there was still a chance for local transmission of coronavirus and so schools closure should continue. If the situation improves both globally and locally, the government might start opening schools region-wise.

“Maybe, we can slowly re-open schools in remote places first,” Lyonchhen said. “There is nothing to be confused. This option is how we’ll approach instead of declaring fixed duration.”

Lyonchhen said two of the many options the ministry was looking at were promoting all the students based on a particular assessment or making all students repeat the class.

“These are options we’ll look into although we feel the former could be a good decision so that new admission in Class PP will not remain stagnant,” Lyonchhen said. “We won’t issue a notice today and ask them to open the schools tomorrow.”

Lyonchhen said that teachers could teach through e-learning and assess progress based on lessons delivered to promote the children uniformly.

“What is the problem if we do that or what is the problem if we make everyone repeat the same class? I’ve asked the ministry to look into the impact if students are promoted or made to repeat.”

However, Lyonchhen said that there were other options that the ministry could adopt, like doing away both the summer and winter vacations to have regular examinations.

“There is no hard rule here, and there are so many options we can work on, which is why the ministry is looking into all the options right now,” Lyonchhen said. “We’ve to see what is important right now, completing syllabus or the situation. There is always time to adjust.”

Lyonchhen also said that the government was concerned about students who did not have access to television or gadgets and for students in urban areas whose parents were unable to monitor the children.

“This is why ministry and teachers cannot assess children based on the content imparted through e-learning. There will be a disparity between students who have access and who does not,” he said.

Officiating Secretary Karma Tshering said that ministry was assessing the pros and cons of students’ assessment and promotion based on the planned learning outcomes that were being delivered to students.

“The ministry has worked out various options as outlined in the Guidelines for Curriculum Implementation Plan for Education in Emergency,” Karma Tshering said. “We hope the situation doesn’t prolong.”

The ministry will submit the proposal to the government for directives soon.

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