The West Bengal government on February 7, 2022 launched ‘Paray Shikshalaya’, an open-air classroom in the neighbourhood programme, for students from class 1 to 7. The aim of this initiative is to encourage students who dropped out of schools during the Covid-19 pandemic to continue their education.
Why was this initiative launched?
On January 31, schools across the state opened for classes 8 to 12. However, students studying in lower classes continued to take the online classes. A week prior to this announcement, student outfits SFI, West Bengal Chhatra Parishad and ABVP had been protesting in the streets demanding reopening of schools for all classes at the earliest. A section of doctors and parents were also in favour of reopening of schools. In view of the rising demand for physical classes, the state government reopened schools and also launched this neighbourhood classes initiative.
Initially, the initiative was meant for primary school students (1 to 5). However, students in classes 6 and 7 were also included as physical classes in schools did not reopen for them. Students are being called in batches. Arrangements for mid-day meals have also been made for the students taking neighbourhood classes.
Where were these classes held?
Schools which do not have open-air spaces conducted the classes in neighbourhood parks and grounds. Local councilors and MLAs helped in setting up infrastructure in such parks like putting up makeshift shades and chairs, besides making mid-day meal arrangements for the students. Schools which have open-air spaces held the classes there. About 30 to 40 students per school attended the classes in several places in Kolkata.