Parents must sign petition
KUWAIT CITY, Oct 28: Since education in its current form has a negative impact in terms of increasing the risk of obesity, eyes staying glued to electronic screens, and losing the positive aspects of social interaction prevalent in classrooms, demands are growing for the reopening of schools and returning the students, as sitting at home is a temporary stage in line with the precautionary requirements for confronting the COVID-19 outbreak, after which studies must resume normally, reports Al-Qabas daily. In this context, the educational specialist in early education, educational leadership and creativity Dr Dana Al-Mishaan called for the gradual return of studies in schools.
She said parents must sign a petition that includes demands centered on preserving the future of children, and submit it to the concerned authorities particularly the Ministry of Education, as part of a campaign titled “Education is an Acquired Right” it launched. Dr Al-Mishaan disclosed, “Education in Kuwait has become a victim of ill-considered decisions, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government is dealing with the crisis in a gray manner. The ministry did not defend the right to education, but rather parents and specialists are the ones who played this role”.
She recalled the ministry’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, saying, “In March, it fought distance education, despite the urgent need for it. Private schools, especially foreign ones, were able to implement this system even though it was rejected by public education at that time. Later, the ministry followed in the footsteps of these schools and implemented its elearning plan in October”. Dr Al-Mishaan stressed that the error is now being repeated. She said, “Parents are in dire need to educate their children inside schools, as the current circumstances allow for that. There are more than 20 foreign, British, American and bilingual schools that have been ready since last May for the return of learners to schools. They have all the capabilities and implemented precautionary measures that would preserve the health of our children and their safety. However, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education have reservations about that. This is extremely dangerous, especially since all specialists stress the need for students to return to classrooms.”
Right of preference
Dr Al-Mishaan highlighted the government did not include student education in its plan for the so-called return to normal life in its five stages. She said, “It is currently impossible for life to return to normal as it was before COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, we must think outside the box and gradually restore educational life in a safe and smart manner while giving parents, students and every family the right to make a choice in this regard.” Dr Al-Mishaan affirmed that there are reliable ways to resume schools through the hybrid system, so that the students’ attendance is divided inside the school, provided that the number of learners within a class is between 7 and 10 students. She indicated that, “This system is in place in some Gulf countries like Qatar and Bahrain, despite their high number of COVID-19 cases.
Education is a priority for both those countries. Also, recent global studies have shown that the number of cases did not increase with the opening of schools”. Dr Al-Mishaan called on the public education sector to benefit from the global experiences of some foreign private schools. She said, “There is no harm or shame in that. We are faced with a pandemic that requires concerted efforts to find innovative solutions that serve the educational process and provide preventive measures in classrooms”. Dr Al-Mishaan revealed that, “Some parents have opened basement schools for their children. Mothers, in agreement with teachers, teach their children in group classes inside one of their homes. The number of students in these special classes may reach up to ten”.
Regarding the mental and psychological effects, Dr Al-Mishaan said, “Studies have shown that children staying away from schools for three to four months affects their educational attainment, kills ambition among learners, and leads to increase in depression, suicide, bullying and fear. There are physical effects as well, the most important of which is the increase in rate of obesity among children, and threat to the safety of children’s vision after they sit for long periods of time in front of electronic devices, in addition to losing the language of faltering students”. She stressed that, “The social responsibility falls on the shoulders of all members of society, citizens and residents, to adhere to the preventive and precautionary requirements, which the Ministry of Health insists we follow in order to take our country to safety and contribute to preserving the future of our children.”
Dr Al-Mishaan sent a message to all officials of the Ministry of Education, stating that, “Education is an acquired right. Parents have the right to defend the future of their children… Grant us the right to choose to return to schools, and let every home choose what suits it the best.” With many believe that closing schools is aimed at avoiding children from mingling with each other and protecting them from contracting the COVID-19 virus, Dr Al-Mishaan insisted that this belief is wrong, “because our children are mingling with each other in parks, homes, clubs, malls, societies, and others.” Dr Al-Mishaan said she considers the opening of schools with the application of health requirements “is much better than leaving children in parties, gatherings, and classrooms that are held underground indoors. It is indispensable for students to return to school with the application of strict health control.”