Hope of a new start fills Praveshanotsavam this year

The event marks a new academic year in Kerala schools

The day dawned like any other day in recent months for lakhs of students but for the fact that it was the start of a new academic year and one filled with still more challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The customary fun and excitement associated with school reopening was missing for the second consecutive year as the State-level Pravesanotsavam got under way in the presence of a limited crowd at Government Higher Secondary School for Girls, Cotton Hill, on Tuesday morning.

A few students, balloons and buntings, and flowers on the stage were some of the bright spots at the sombre function held against the backdrop of the pandemic.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who inaugurated the virtual Pravesanotsavam also held out the message of hope. “The time when students, dressed in new clothes and school bag in hand, return to school is not far,” he told students watching the live telecast of the celebrations on KITE VICTERS channel.

Though the Pravesanotsavam was a low-key affair held amid COVID-19 protocols, there need be no lack of happiness and excitement as it was the start of building a new world—that of children who were our future. “This is their day, one of hope.”

Adversity, he said, taught one many lessons. The pandemic was one such in the State’s efforts to nurture a generation capable of shaping a good future. The purpose of education was not only to acquire knowledge; it helped develop the spirit of inquiry, get insight into society, foster talents, understand the lesson of equality, and develop a scientific bent of mind.

Last year, with the start of digital classes during the first wave of COVID-19, the State became a model for everyone. A mass campaign to provide digital equipment to students had helped overcome the digital divide. This year, going a step further, online classes in which students could directly communicate with their teachers would be introduced in phases, the Chief Minister said.

He urged students to remain vigilant during the second wave, and ensure there was no third wave. Though they may be feeling stressed by being home-bound for months, it was imperative to make them understand that this was the situation the world over, Mr. Vijayan said.

The online classes this year would include recreational activities such as music, sports, and drawing to relieve students’ anxiety, he said.

Minister for General Education V. Sivankutty who lit the lamp at the function said a study on how students could return to school gradually depending on the pandemic spread would be conducted.

The second wave of COVID-19 had precluded the expected start to the new academic year. However, the government was taking the next step in students’ education by moving towards online education that would held them interact with their teachers and clear their doubts.

Though these were unusual times, the pandemic would pass and students would be able to return to school and get-together with their friends, he said.

The government would give priority to addressing the problems faced by students of special schools, he added.

Messages to students by a host of celebrities were telecast at the function, attended by Ministers Antony Raju and G.R. Anil, Mayor Arya Rajendran, General Education Principal Secretary A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish, Director of General Education Jeevan Babu K., and Samagra Shiksha, Kerala project director A.P. Kuttykrishnan.

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