When schools reopen, Assam may see return to Gurukul-like classes

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GUWAHATI: Once the Centre orders re-opening of schools, the Assam government has plans to recreate the ancient gurukul system and bring out school children from classes V to VIII from the confines of classrooms to the open space, in a field or a courtyard, to reduce chances of spreading of the coronavirus.

Students of classes IX-XII will attend classes in their classrooms for not more than three hours and each classroom can have only 15 students. For those in standards 9 and 11, there will be classes for two days a week and those in standard 10 and 12 will attend classes four days a week.

“If the Centre orders re-opening of schools, we are planning to move in a cautious way… we do not want to put students in confinement in a closed space. We are contemplating to explore the ancient gurukul system and hold classrooms in the open, may be in the field or in the courtyard of someone’s house,” Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

“We have prepared an SOP and we can re-open schools from September 1, provided the central government allows it. Our SOP will be put out in public domain for public opinion. This will be purely a voluntarily exercise and not binding on any school,” Sarma said.

“Our focus is on rural areas. In urban centers the open spaces may not be easily available, but there are other methods of learning through digital mode,” Sarma added.

Sarma said the initial planning includes compulsory testing for Covid-19 for all teachers and non-teaching staff and classes will be divided into sections of 15 students and only those can attend classes at a time, he said.

“No classes will be held till Class IV under this plan, which is only for classes from Class V onwards. For IX-XII, classes will be held inside school and college classrooms. While students of standards IX and XI, classes will be held two days a week while students of classes X and XII will have school four days a week,” Sarma said, adding that there will not be more than three hours of classes in one day and teachers should divide students into sections with one section having maximum 15 students.

On the other hand, for students pursuing three-year degree (TDC) courses, only final semester students will require to attend classes if they do begin in September.
“We are not issuing any directives to university classes since the varsities are autonomous bodies and will take a decision on their own in consultation with the education department,” Sarma said. Schools will remain closed for students up to Class IV till September-end, he said.
“Efforts will be made to ensure maximum social distancing with schools initiating shift systems with a particular class coming at an allotted time of the day,” he said.
The minister further said the Secondary Education Board of Assam (Seba) and Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) have also been asked to consider either reducing the syllabus or providing maximum options in the question paper, so that students do not face any difficulty if a portion of the syllabus remains not covered.

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