The Ministry of Human Resource Development has instructed educational institutes to encourage students, teachers, officials and parents to participate in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to citizens to switch off their lights and light candles and lamps for nine minutes on Sunday to demonstrate collective will to fight the coronavirus.
On Friday, Modi had appealed to Indians to turn off their lights at 9 pm on Sunday to show solidarity against the coronavirus, saying the collective strength would take the country out of what he termed the “darkness that engulfs us”.
The ministry has also urged students and their family members to download the government’s recently launched coronavirus tracking app called Aarogya Setu.
In a letter dated April 3, ministry Secretary Amit Khare said that the “Ministry of Ayush has developed a protocol for immunity boosting measures for self-care for kids”. Khare then added that schools should ask students to participate in Modi’s request to light candles “to realise the power of light and to highlight the objective for which we are all fighting together”.
The letter was written to the heads of the University Grants Commission, National Council Of Educational Research And Training, All India Council For Technical Education, National Council For Teacher Education, National Institute of Open Schooling, National Testing Agency , Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, and Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti.
The education ministry has also circulated a Microsoft Excel sheet seeking details on the number of teachers and parents who downloaded the Arogya Setu application, along with the number of students who “participated in candle lighting on 5th April at their home”.
Additionally, the ministry has also put out a Google form asking individual families if they have downloaded the coronavirus tracking app and whether or not their child participated in the show of solidarity called by the prime minister.
Principals of privately-run schools in Delhi and Chennai told The Wire that they got a circular from the Central Board of Secondary Education to implement the instructions before Monday evening. “We have asked our students and teachers to download the Aarogya Setu application by April 6,” an unidentified principal of a school in North West Delhi said. “We have also emailed parents of our students to encourage them to light a diya on April 5. We received the notice on the morning of April 4. Although it is quite difficult for us to enforce all the directives in a day or two, we have somehow been able to do it.”
Another teacher from a school in Noida said they have been asked to send clear instructions to ensure that students participate in Modi’s call to light candles and lamps at 9 pm on Sunday. “I have asked my students to download the Aarogya Setu application but there is no way to verify whether all of them have done that or not,” the person was quoted as saying. “The schools are not functioning.”
Meanwhile, the principal of a prominent school in Chennai also acknowledged that they received the notice, adding that that all teachers were informed about it on Saturday. “We will look to get a rough headcount of how many students have participated,” she said. “There is an internal communication channel called Yokibu through we disseminate information. Apart from this, there are other informal WhatsApp groups, where we will also collect photos of the students lighting lamps today along with their families.”