Spare a thought for unvaccinated students!

Editor,

As a parent of a Higher Secondary student, I would like to bring to your attention certain points regarding the re-opening of schools by the government.
First of all, many Higher Secondary students have not attained the age of 18 years and as such they are not qualified to receive the Covid vaccine. What is worrying is that in some schools, these unvaccinated students now have to attend off-line classes because online classes have been largely discontinued. My question is, is it safe for these unvaccinated students to attend off-line classes? Let us not forget that we are still in the middle of a pandemic despite the easing of all protocols.
Some of these unvaccinated students are genuinely afraid to attend off-line classes because they had seen it was impossible to follow all the SOPs issued by the government in the last school re-opening. We know the infrastructure of our schools and the challenges of practising social distancing in the classrooms. As a parent, I would like to know if the government is checking and monitoring schools to see that all protocols are followed.
I understand our children’s education has suffered tremendously since last year and I know online teaching cannot replace classroom teaching. However, our children’s health and mental well-being must come first and we must remember that they have their own fears and opinions. I would therefore request the government to come out with a clear directive regarding online classes and to conduct regular checks on schools to see that all SOPs are maintained.

Yours etc,

A Khyriem,

Via email

Pollution in Meghalaya

Editor,

Pollution of Air and Water which is directly connected to Climate Change is the most discussed and debated subject in recent times the world over. Floods, forest fires and melting of the ice caps for instance pose a serious threat to the very survival of Mother Earth.
Pollution laws have become very stringent in view of the changes in the climate and negative impact on health and wellbeing of the environment and the natural habitat.
In India, there are three main laws governing the monitoring, prevention and control of pollution.
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981.
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974.
The Environment (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1986.
These Acts provide Central and State Boards for the Prevention and Control of pollution for air, water and the overall environment. Polluting industries particularly, have to comply with certain norms and standards to prevent the spread of pollution, be it air or water. The industries have to obtain a No Objection Certificate from the Pollution Control Board which is valid for a specific time period on fulfilment of the norms and rules of the Acts. Non-compliance of the rules under these Acts is an offence and can lead to the closure of the industrial units. The person in charge of the unit can be criminally charged and appropriate penalty imposed as per the law.
Pollution and Climate Change has become a very important issue globally and policy makers and politicians are struggling to find the right balance to frame policies around this subject. The Paris Agreement 2015 which was signed in 2016 provides guidelines and timelines to achieve the objectives of controlling, reducing pollution and better manage climate change. India is one of the signatories to the Paris Agreement 2015.
In Meghalaya, it appears that the Pollution Control Board is oblivious to the pollution and contamination of water bodies around us. There is no monitoring, checking of vehicles or industries that emits fumes and smoke or discharge of toxic effluent and hence there is no question of issuance of No Objection Certificate. One can witness the emission of black fumes and smoke from vehicles especially along the highways. Many believe that the fruit bearing trees in and around the city of Shillong are infected with insects due to vehicular pollution. It is high time for the Board to pull up its socks, utilise its resources and perform its duties and responsibilities for the betterment of the environment and its habitat.

Yours etc.,

Albert Andrew Nongrum,

Via email

Kudos Tamil Nadu!

Editor,

Apropos the letter, ‘Tamil Nadu drops NEET exam’, by Venu GS (ST Sep15, 2021), I wish to congratulate the Tamil Nadu government for this step. NEET was authorised by the Supreme Court so if it to be done away with it will require that the Centre passes a Bill against NEET. Only then will the whole country be free from the NEET. Education is on the concurrent list of the Constitution and as far as admission to colleges are concerned, the Centre and the states have joint responsibility. If NEET is done away with, we will be back to the old method of selecting children for medical studies based on their performance in Physics, Chemistry and Biology in their state boards, CBSE or ICSE. The Directors of Health Service of the states would accept all the applicants based on their marks and their two choices of a college (in order of preference). The State Department would publish the results in the media and this would be visible to all.
It would be a matter of great relief for our state of Meghalaya in particular. Let me tell readers that since the NEET took over the mantle in 2019 to examine our students, even those toppers in State boards fail to qualify despite ST concessions. One vital question to be answered is, “If poor, meritorious students having scored 96% in Physics, Chemistry and Biology after hard work still need to be tested by NEET, this is not justified at all. Lakhs of poor, meritorious students in our country never qualify as they could not be spoon-fed by these NEET coaching centres which are known to deviate from standard procedure of conceptual methods of teaching.
For Tamil Nadu in particular, it was a sad experience as last year thirteen girls died of suicide days before the Sept 13, 2020, as they lost all hopes of qualifying for NEET.This year, one girl died of suicide a day before the examination and on Sept 14 another girl also died of suicide after sitting for the examination because she had no hope of qualifying. This year with online classes things have been devastating. We who scrutinise these papers could find that none of the questions from CBSE texts have been set. CBSE has 8 solved problems for every topic and around 60 unsolved (expected as class work to be guided by teachers if need be).To set objectives hidden among the ‘made easy or bazaar’ notes is devastating for even the brightest students. And more surprising is the fact that with such tough objectives quite a good number score 720 out of 720 in the 3 subjects. Is this possible? The Covid year had disadvantaged our poor, who could not afford costly online classes. Google classes (free) are in plenty, but these guide the students to understand the concept of the subject, which can be better explained. “Teach a man to fish, and you will not have to bother to give him fish everyday”

Yours etc.,

Name withheld on request,

Via email

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