With several states reopening schools on Monday, the Union education ministry has decided to take stock of the progress made by state authorities with regard to vaccinating teachers to ensure a seamless and safe transition to classroom teaching, two government officials said, requesting anonymity.
Education minister Dharmendra Pradhan will meet ministers and bureaucrats in charge of school and higher education, besides technical and vocational education, in August, they added. After senior ministry officials interact with state authorities, Pradhan will review the situation “to help states achieve the required speed on vaccination of teachers and handhold them wherever necessary”.
Schools and colleges were allowed to reopen in a staggered manner by some states. While Karnataka has reopened colleges and universities partly, allowing hostels to reopen on Monday, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat and Punjab have allowed physical classes for secondary and senior secondary students. However, so far, no decision has been taken on allowing primary students, given that vaccines for children below 12 years is still not available. some covid vaccines are undergoing trials for children aged 12 years or above.
Some state governments, including Delhi, have said that schools should not reopen without vaccinating students and teachers. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) had earlier this month asked countries to vaccinate teachers on a priority. Protection of teachers is essential for schools to reopen safely, it added. As per Unesco, only 21 out of 197 countries, accounting for 18 million primary and secondary teachers, prioritized teachers in the first phase of vaccination. “Another 37 countries included teachers as a priority group for the second phase of vaccinations,” it said, adding that 57 countries did not prioritize teachers. Some regions have prioritized teachers’ vaccination in India but not as a country, Unesco said .
“States will be asked to share data on teachers’ vaccination, but we are not in confrontation with states. For education, states and the Centre are partners and we want a smooth functioning,” said one of the two officials.
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