Scar pandemic left on school kids’ psyche

Ahmedabad Mirror | 6 days ago | 22-09-2022 | 02:00 pm

Scar pandemic left on school kids’ psyche

#NEWDELHIAs schools across the country now open after two years of online education, principals, teachers and behavioural experts on Wednesday reported a significant rise in behavioural issues among schoolchildren like aggression, attention span deficit, sleeplessness, and emotional disturbances, especially among those who lost their near and dear ones in Covid.Stressing upon the need to introduce social-emotional learning programmes and counselling sessions across schools, they said the situation is delicate and will need at least a year or so to bring affected kids back into the normal course of life. “Post-pandemic, there have been huge changes in children, in terms of how they view their teachers, their schools, their peers and so on. Their attention span has reduced and writing skills have taken a toll for sure. Their sleep patterns have also gone for a toss, leading to irritability,” Nikita Tomar Mann, principal at Indraprastha Global School in Noida said.Several school children have gone through a lot of trauma as their parents went through financial distress in the last two years, resulting in deep emotional issues creeping in among them. “Children do understand that their parents faced financial issues like unable to pay school fees or house rent as some of them lost jobs or faced pay cuts. They came back to school with that kind of understanding, which changed the way they look at life as well. I think for each kid, it’s a different story and the intensity of it also varies from child to child so we need to handle this situation very, very carefully,” Mann elaborated. The concerns are real as the latest survey by the government has revealed that a majority of school students’ mental health has declined in the country. The survey findings were based on the responses of 3.79 lakh students in 36 states and tnion territories.The 2022 NCERT survey found that changes in the schooling system like prolonged school closure, online classes, changes in Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) exams, and postponement of exams directly affected lakhsof students.According to Dr Sameer Malhotra, director, mental health and behavioural sciences, Max Hospitals, they have seen an increase in behavioural issues in kids due to an increase in internet usage, gaming, and excessive mobile use. “It has led to irritability, disturbed sleep-wake schedule, irritable and demanding behaviour. These kids also display restlessness and conduct problems. Ways out to help these kids should be well coordinated, consistent logical ways to resolve problems,” Malhotra said. Sr Pramila Judith Vas, principal of Fr Agnel School in Greater Noida, said that the pandemic changed the education landscape dramatically, with the distinctive rise ofe-learning.“Many parents suffered financially too and expressed their inability to pay fees. Counselling sessions were provided to the parents and their families. Supportive hand was extended to the students to cope up with their emotional responses,” Vas told IANS. Acting upon the study, the NCERT has now issued guidelines to schools for early identification and intervention of mental health problems among students. Under the guidelines, they have recommended mental health advisory panels, mental health awareness programmes, andpedagogical support.Dr Samir Parikh, director, mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare, said that children now need to refocus on theimportance of physical activities, sports, arts, creativity, friends, learning social skills, and communication besides studies with friends toeffectively deal with the situation and solve it.

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Private schools charge huge fees and yet the facilities are not up to the mark and there is discrimination between girls and boys.”Her education halted after she finished Class 12 two years ago, Suhani said she expects she will be married off soon.Lata Ben said she admired the infrastructure and roads in Delhi. “The city is very clean, there is no garbage and potholes on the road. In Gujarat, the entire area becomes a swimming pool, even if it rains for 10 minutes.”At the CM house, an emotional Harsh hugged Kejriwal, and presented him a portrait of Ambedkar. He called it “a very proud moment for us”. “I cannot believe I am standing here with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal sir… It still feels like I’m daydreaming.”Harsh repeated what Kejriwal said at Sunday’s meeting. “In the last 75 years (of India’s Independence), no leader has invited a Dalit boy to his home for lunch… He (Kejriwal) is the only and first leader in the country to do so and eat with us.”Kejriwal said: “My family members and I were very happy to receive the Solankis. I am very thankful to them for coming so far from Gujarat.” The CM added that the next time he goes to Ahmedabad, he would visit Harsh’s house and meet the people of his community.Lata Ben said she never thought she would see this day. “Harsh keeps attending these political meetings and comes home and (talks politics)… Last night, when he said we should pack our things and be ready by 6 am to meet Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi, I did not believe him. I though he is joking like always and said, ‘Tu pagal ho gaya hai, jaa soja (You have lost it, go and sleep)’. Later, at midnight, he told me the tickets were booked. In the morning, as a car arrived to take us, as did the media, my blood pressure went low in shock and excitement.”The lunch with Kejriwal has huge significance, she stressed. “Who calls a Dalit family to their house in today’s time? That too for lunch,” Lata Ben, who is posted in the Gujarat Sports Authority office and earns Rs 8,000 per month, said.Asked if they were regular voters and would tell their neighbours about Delhi, Harsh said: “Yes. We got electricity a year ago after 15 years of request. 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We did this our whole life but we don’t give publicity to this culture.”AAP leaders, however, insisted the CM’s invitation to Harsh was entirely on the spot. “Once he asked Solanki to come to Delhi, we made inquiries and booked the tickets,” a leader said.A senior leader added: “Of course, it was all part of politics and optics, but the CM’s decision to call Solanki and his family home was completely spontaneous.”With AAP increasingly putting Ambedkar at the centre of its politics, the leader said Kejriwal regularly visits the Valmiki temple in Delhi, which falls in his constituency. “For decades, people have used the Dalit community for their gains, but this is the first time a CM has accorded respect to a person from the community,” the leader said.While even before his Ahmedabad visit to an auto driver’s home, Kejriwal had visited another such driver in Delhi, and others in Punjab, it is the first time he has invited a common man to his home for lunch.Back in Gandhinagar, there was some confusion over Solanki’s exact residence. AAP Gujarat spokesperson Karan Barot claimed he was a resident of Shahibaug. But later, the party shared an itinerary of his visit to Delhi in which Gandhinagar was shown as his address.A contact of a family acquaintance, shared by AAP, told The Indiana Express, “I do not get to meet him much, but I know he has been working as a sanitation worker on contract for the last three-four years.”(With inputs from RASHI MISHRA, Ahmedabad)

A Dalit guest from Gujarat: How Arvind Kejriwal made a meal out of a lunch