Published: 22nd December 2020
Karnataka High Court asks state government to open schools in phased manner and ascertain if children have been forced into marriage or labour
In response to the court's order on December 4, the state informed the court that it had issued an order directing that Vidyagama programme be resumed from January 1, 2021, for Classes 1-10
The number of COVID-19 cases has come down, and the state government must apply its mind and examine whether schools can be opened in a phased manner, rather than close all schools across the state, the Karnataka High Court said on Monday.
Making the above observation while hearing a PIL filed by AA Sanjeev Narrain, a division bench of Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy directed the state to examine whether schools can be reopened for regular classes, in particular in places where few or no cases are being reported.
In response to the court's order on December 4, the state informed the court that it had issued an order directing that Vidyagama programme be resumed from January 1, 2021, for Classes 1-10 in both government and private schools.
The state said that the decision was taken on December 15 and the order issued the next day, along with modified Standard Operating Procedure.
On the petitioner's prayer that the government could mobilise funds to procure and distribute laptops, tablets or computers to children, the Bench said that in its order on December 4, it had said the government could make an appeal to fund the Vidyagama programme through CSR.
It noted that the government was awaiting a formal response to its appeal, and said the government must submit a compliance report before the next hearing. The Bench directed the state to focus on school dropouts, and file a status report regarding the admission of children to Classes 1-10, and admission to Class I after anganwadi.
It also directed the state to ascertain whether children have been forced into labour, marriage, or become victims of trafficking due to closure of schools. On the midday meal scheme, the state told the court that it was providing ration to children.