Kochi: The most exciting period that students await every year is the summer vacation, which is now getting over. The vacation is the time when they are free from tensions and studies, home work and exams. They can indulge in their favourite pastimes, mainly on playgrounds, and rejuvenate themselves.
The vacation provides the opportunities to children to learn many things informally and take part in extracurricular activities. Schools devise various programmes but there is a raging debate whether they do good to the students. Several schools conduct vacation classes as well. The State Child Rights Commission had intervened in the past two years to halt this practice owing to the high mercury levels during April and May.
Some teachers say that the children fritter away their time with mobile and other devices and do not engage in any physical activity like playing games.
"Many schools used to train students in dance, music, musical instruments, acting, sports and games during the summer vacation. They also conducted spoken English classes, personality development programmes and computer classes," said Dr. John Erniakulathil, principal of St Philomena's Public School and Junior College, Elanji, Ernakulam district.
"But now, as the government has banned all the activities in schools during the summer vacation, children are misusing this opportunity. Earlier, students engaged in playing outdoor games and making friendship. Now they play mobile games and watch television. Some may even become addicts to games such as Clash of Clans and Subway Surfers. They spend a lot of time on social networks such as Whatsapp and Facebook which may even lead them to unhealthy relations and problems. After reopening, parents and teachers may find it difficult to make them get rid of these addictions. If a survey is done by any competitive agency, the negative impact will be very clear. Some parents are forced to take their children to psychiatrists and counselling centres due to negative outcomes. This situation has worried the parents and teachers alike," he said.
Kerala CBSE School Management Association general secretary Ms Indira Rajan said that many orders of Child Rights Commission were fostering unhealthy trends giving undue freedom to children which they tend to misuse. "I had written a letter to the commission chairperson Ms Sobha Koshy citing the problems in implementing the order regarding vacation classes. Schools are left with limited working days due to holidays and hartals. Working parents have difficulty in leaving their children at home. Students misuse technological gadgets when left alone at home. But she did not pay heed to them and her reply was not convincing also," said Ms Indira Rajan. The decision was not taken after a proper survey, she said.
Many tuition centres stacked students in miserable conditions with no provision for cool classrooms or drinking water. "The Child Rights Commission turned a blind eye to such issues. We told them that schools which can provide fans and drinking water and other facilities should be allowed to take vacation classes. But this was not allowed. Schools will have to struggle to finish the portions for higher classes which they normally do by December-January and then go for revision," she said.
"We told the commission that we have to equip the students passing out of standard VIII to become more knowledgeable and well-informed and create confidence in them to appear for the board examination within eight months. From this year, class X board exam is mandatory," she said.
Central Kerala Sahodaya School Complex president Fr Sijan Paul Unnukallel said that his petition in this regard was under the consideration of the Kerala High Court. "The Director of Public Instruction (DPI) of the state government issued an order in this regard. It is logical to spare students in lower classes but those in the higher classes need attention and coaching during vacation.
"CBSE schools in the state maintain high standards in terms of infrastructure and other facilities. Now a deliberate attempt is made to bring down the standard of CBSE schools and the move on vacation classes can only be seen as part of this design," Fr Sijan said.
Dr. John Erniakulathil opined that one-month vacation is sufficient for senior students and the remaining month should be used purposefully. "Since the curriculum is so vast, the special classes which were taken during the summer vacation are a blessing for the students and teachers. The CBSE demands 220 and state government 200 working days a year. But the social and political atmosphere in the state never helps the schools to reach anywhere near the target and it is very hard to get even 185 days. Such a situation affects the quality of the teaching-learning process," he added.
Teachers know what their children need more than anyone else. "So they make systematic plans for easing their burden by giving special attention during vacation.
“But the ban on classes during summer vacation has left children without any proper guidance. This will land them in stress at the time of exam since they have little time for study," he said....