- Apprentice Lawyer
The Karnataka High Court today asked the State government to consider re-opening schools in a phased manner after taking into account the COVID-19 cases in each taluk, rather than having a uniform policy for the entire State.
A Division Bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Nataraj Rangaswamy directed,
"State to apply its mind on whether, in phased manner, schools could be opened on regular basis having regard to the number of COVID cases in a particular taluk, rather than adopting a uniform policy for the entire state."
This apart, the Court passed the following directions:
State to make a specific appeal to private players for aid (for laptops and tablets for economically weaker students) to be sought to through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as envisaged under Section 153 of the Companies Act so that disruption of education of students is mitigated.
State to place on record the steps taken to ensure that the admission of children from Anganawadi to 1st standard is not hampered amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
State to ensure that children have taken re-admission to higher classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Court passed these directions while keeping in mind the closure of schools since March 2020.
"These directions are passed by the Court in order to ascertain whether children have been forced to child labour, child marriage or child trafficking."
The Court has directed the State to file its status report on January 18.
The two-judge Bench was hearing a petition seeking directions to the government to provide laptops, tablets, and other digital resources free of cost to enable school children belonging to economically weaker sections to attend online classes.
During the hearing, the government advocate apprised the Court that Vidyagama programme would be restarted from January 1, 2021.
"The State is interested in recommencing Vidyagama from classes 1 to 10", the Court was further told.
This assurance of the State came after Senior Advocate Harish Narassappa raised concern that newspaper articles suggested that the benefit of Vidyagama would only be provided for certain classes.
Earlier this month, the Court had directed the State government to take a decision on whether the presently suspended 'Vidyagama' scheme could be recommenced, with a view to keeping the students engaged.
The Vidyagama scheme was initiated to ensure that classes are not disrupted for children who lacked access to online resources. As per the scheme, children used to to gather in batches of 10 to 15 at a spacious places located in the vicinity of their houses. All the children would be required to wear face masks, undergo thermal screening and maintain physical distancing.
On the point of appealing for financial aid for procuring tablets and laptops, the Court opined that there is no harm in asking other persons who are supporting the State.
"Let them support the State," the Court said.
The matter has been adjourned to January 18 for reporting compliance.