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OPINION

For a complete start of classes


For a complete start of classes

Following a nearly two-year closure of schools and other institutions prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, those reopened on February 22. Instead of online classes, students will now be able to attend in-person classes. Prior to this phase of reopening, the schools, colleges and universities remained under a Covid-19-prompted closure for one month. Prior to it, the educational institutions passed through off-and-on closure and reopening phases. Amid those volatile times, teachers and guardians had been found overtaken by uncertainties about the academic future of the students. Apart from the long gap in their curricular activities, many teenage and junior-level students had been made to pass through spells of depression caused by the uncertainties over their student career. Many were in doubt about their return to their institutions anytime soon.

Moreover, they became eligible to corona vaccine doses only recently. It is the students aged 12 and above who have been inoculated with two vaccines are now entitled to attend the in-person classes. Those receiving the first dose will be able to attend online classes only.

This very scenario started to unfold in many developed nations quite a long time ago. But their school and college reopening had to go through ups and downs. No sooner had they reopened their schools than the governments ordered the institutions closed. That was because the students and their parents became impatient to see their offspring in regular classes. Seeing a drop in the intensity of the Covid-19, they demanded their small and elderly children be allowed to attend classes after the long absence from school. They had the least inkling about the tricky nature of the Covid-19 variants such as delta, omicron etc. They were least prepared to see the schools and colleges declared shut in a short time.  Bangladesh had yet to face this awkward situation. With their educational institutions declared open this time, it could be expected that they have weighed the pros and cons of the critical decision.

Few students are prepared to go through future bouts of closures or the improvised classes online. After attending online classes for a considerably long time, they must have realised the teachings' limitations and shortcomings. In fact, there are great differences between physical and virtual classes. Due to faulty network and narrow internet coverage, many students in the outlying remote areas failed to reap the full benefits of online class attendance. Even after the reopening of in-person classes, the rural students may have to face unexpected hazards related to vaccination. The authorities haven't made it clear if arrangements of identifying unvaccinated students are there in village schools. In many Dhaka higher secondary schools, temperature of students is seen being tested at the very entry-points. It's because, in spite of taking the second dose at a vaccination centre a student might be infected with any of the virus' variant later. Expecting such measures of checking the students' body temperature at all school and college gates is like a pipedream. The same is the case for ensuring the mandatory health protocols.

To speak in brief, the novel corona pandemic has led to a near-catastrophe around the world. Few territories, be they on a mid-sea island or in a locality deep inside Amazonian forests, have been spared. Be they highly developed countries or least developed, it might take years in a row to fully resume their educational tempo. The affluent countries might be able to fill up the curricular gaps by launching innovative crash programmes. The poorer nations may have to wallow in the age-old shortcuts like abridged syllabi, auto-promotion etc. The Bangladesh authorities ought to do their best to avert these self-deceptive steps, and save the students from remaining stunted for long.

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