'Ensure well-lit rooms for children taking online classes'


By NS Desk 04-Oct-2020

Harsh Vardhan

Union Heath Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday advised parents to ensure well-lit rooms for their children who are taking online classes.

"I would recommend the parents to ensure well-lit rooms for the children using mobiles, laptop and computers so that their eyes do not get strained," he said.

The Minister also said that a limit has been set for the screen time of the online classes, from 30 minutes for the nursery level to 90 minutes for students of classes 1 to 8 and three hours for students of classes 9 to 12.

"For nursery level, parents will be guided to assist the kids and this class will be of thirty minutes, students from class 1 to 8 will be allowed to take two sessions of not more than 45 minutes each, and four sessions not more than 45 minutes each for students from class 9 to 12," he said in his webinar 'Sunday Samvaad' with his social media audience.

Harsh Vardhan's advisory is in sync with the guidelines called 'Pragyata', released by the Education Ministry in August, recommended that the duration for online classes for pre-primary students should not be for more than 30 minutes.

The guidelines were framed by the Ministry's Department of School Education and Literacy following concerns by parents about schools conducting online classes like regular schools, thus leading to an increase in children's screen time after the Covid-19 pandemic mandated a shift from classroom teaching to online learning.

The pandemic has led to the closure of schools and has impacted millions of students. A report released by UNESCO in April stated that more than 32 crore students had been affected by the various restrictions on schools and colleges enforced by the pandemic.

With no outdoor activities during the pandemic, classes, assignments and recreational activities have all gone online, leaving children glued to mobiles or laptops, pushing up the screen time for many to no less than 8 to 10 hours. Ophthalmologists have been warning that spending too many hours staring at a screen can lead to eye fatigue, dry and irritated eyes, loss of focus flexibility, nearsightedness, and retinal damages, among other eye-related complications.

Meanwhile, in the Unlock 5.0 guidelines, the Union Home Ministry has allowed schools and educational institutions to reopen from October in a "graded manner". However, the ministry had clarified in its guidelines that the state/Union Territory (UT) governments concerned will have the final say and will be allowed to to take a decision in this regard after October 15. (IANS)

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