Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha on Tuesday announced caps on the duration of daily online classes by schools in Jammu and Kashmir after a six-year-old girl’s video message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi went viral.
In the video, the young Kashmiri girl, Mairoo Irfan from Srinagar’s Batmaloo locality, is heard talking about how she spends three hours in the online classroom every day. “Such a load of work is meant for big children. Why so much work for small children, Modi Sahab. What can be done?” she shrugs her shoulders as she ends her message.
The ‘adorable’ complaint by the moved Lt Guv Manoj Sinha, responded to her video on Twitter, promising a review within 48 hours.
Manoj Sinha was back with a policy 24 hours later, on Tuesday evening.
Sinha said the school education department has decided to limit the duration of the daily online classes for all school students.
The guidelines restrict the screen time of pre-primary classes to 30 minutes on a given day.
For classes 1 to 8 level, the online teaching can be undertaken for not more than two sessions of 30-45 minutes each while schools can have four sessions of 30-45 minutes each for students of classes 9 to 12.
“Give 10-15 minutes break between two consecutive classes for students to freshen up, relax and re-energise themselves to focus on the next class,” the guidelines, issued by the school education department, said.
Schools have also been told to avoid homework for primary students and plan “joyful learning experiences” that engage parents as well.
“Our children need more time to play, interact with parents, the biggest learning experience a child can have,” Lt Governor Sinha said.
Incidentally, the Union education ministry did circulate guidelines in July 2020 that asked states to limit the duration of online classes. The new guidelines announced by Lt Governor Sinha are based on the same template.
It is not clear why the J&K’s school education department officials did not implement the education ministry’s guidelines for nearly 10 months till Lt Guv Sinha took note of Mairoo Irfan’s SOS message to PM Modi.
But she is happy. “There should be more time to play,” said the six-year-old.
HT last week reported how unregulated online classes were affecting the health of schoolchildren in Kashmir. Private institutions have been conducting online classes for students as young as four. Government schools have been holding them mostly from Class 5 onwards.
The sessions would extend up to 8 classes in a day, prompting experts to underscore that prolonged screen time of up to five hours was affecting both the physical and mental health of the children and leading to behavioural changes.