Reopen schools for all classes, suggests Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee

Reopen schools for all classes, suggests Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee

KOLKATA: Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee has advised the Bengal government to reopen schools for all classes immediately.

Presently, physical classes for students of VIII to XII have resumed, while students from pre-primary to VII are attending open-air classes under the Paray Shikshalay (Education at Locality) initiative of the state government.

"It is unfortunate that the students of Class V cannot do the sums of Class II level. So, it is obvious that a section of the students cannot catch up with the present form of education. They are lagging behind. This cannot be a good sign for the education system of the state as well as of the country," Banerjee said, while addressing a seminar—in which the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER, West Bengal) was launched—virtually from the US.

Banerjee, who is also the head of the Global Advisory Committee created by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to help the state in fighting Covid, advised the teachers not to think about syllabus at the current juncture.

"You should identify the gaps among the students and adopt innovative study mode to plug those. Children will make quick progress if they are made to start from where they are in terms of foundational learning," he added.

He maintained that if the gap in the level of education was left unaddressed, then the students as they go to the higher classes would not be able to comprehend the lessons taught. "This may result in a drop in enrollment in the future," Banerjee said.

Meanwhile, the ASER report has pointed out that, during the pandemic period, 90 per cent of the students have enrolled themselves in the school, but the reading level dropped below 10 per cent. Students of the first and second standard are facing the most challenging time as they could not go to the Anganwadi centres due to overcrowding, the report states.

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