'For Children's Future, Not Matter of Prestige': K'taka Minister Defends Decision on Reopening of Schools

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Defending the decision to reopen schools from January 1, Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar on Thursday said the issue pertained to the future of the children and not a prestige issue for the government. His assertion came on a day when ruling BJP legislator A H Vishwanath came out against the decision to reopen the schools, which have remained shut since the COVID-19 lockdown in March, saying the children should not be put to risk in the pandemic time.

"I am making it very clear that reopening schools is not a matter of a prestige issue of our government. It's a subject pertaining to the future of the children and our commitment towards them," Kumar told reporters here. He had on December 19 announced opening of schools and pre-university colleges for regular classes for Class 10 and second pre-university from January 1. First year pre- university classes would start from January 15.

On Thursday, the Minister said his department had consulted the Health Minister and the technical advisory committee on COVID-19 at every stage. The government has abided by their suggestion in toto and will follow their guidelines in future as well, he said.

"Please do not invent things which do not exist because we are not working for our pride and prestige in this government," the Minister said, adding he was hurt by such remarks. On Vishwanath's statement, Kumar said the BJP MLC was a former education minister and has given his views. He said he would speak to him on this issue.

Speaking to reporters in Mysuru, Vishwanath said when there were reports of a possible second wave of coronavirus in the state, the "adamant" stand of the minister was not proper. "Which parent would be willing to send their children to the schools when the second wave is bound to hit us?" he asked, and said the minister should not play with the lives of children, parents and the teachers.

Vishwanath advised that schools should be reopened only when the situation was feasible. .