To prevent students from spending a lot of time glued to their mobile phones or television screens, Maharashtra school education department is planning to introduce a unique initiative to encourage children to go and play outdoors. Education minister Vinod Tawde said they are working on a proposal to allot marks to students for playing for an hour on maidans or grounds.
The department is considering the proposal to reward students in the form of additional marks in school exams for playing outdoors, but the proposal is still in its initial stages, said Tawde. “I liked the idea because it will encourage students to give up wasting time on mobile phones and get up and play,” said Tawde. “I will take a meeting to work out the details and take a decision on it soon.”
Currently, the department is discussing it with experts and has not yet finalised how many marks will be assigned. “We have not yet decided how many marks to assign, it could be anywhere between 10 to 50 marks,” said Tawde. “We want the child to play, it could be anywhere on a school playground or at the ground near his residence.”
Since schools cannot detain students till Class 8, they will not benefit from these marks in those classes. Hence, there are plans to introduce the marks in Secondary School Certificate ( SSC) or Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exam, said a senior education official.
School principals said whether this will benefit the students or not depends on how it will be implemented. “This is a tricky concept, there are a lot of loose ends,” said Anjana Prakash, principal, Hansraj Morarji Public School, Andheri. “For instance, how will students prove they have played outside if they play after school hours? It could create confusion.”
Some of the parents said if students are rewarded with marks, parents would also encourage the students to play. “Often it is the parent who stops the child from going to play outside even if the child wants to,” said Shraddha Puri, a parent from Goregaon. “It’s usually because there is too much homework to be completed or tuition classes to attend or also because they feel that the child will waste time if they play.”
On the other hand, some school principals said t he concept will work only if the government provides schools with open grounds. “There is a shortage of open spaces in the city,” said Chandrakanta Pathak, principal, HVB Global Academy, Marine Lines. “The government should give more open spaces to schools to use as playgrounds.”