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Parents stage protests demanding reopening of schools

By Maram Kayed - Nov 03,2020 - Last updated at Nov 03,2020

AMMAN — A number of parents on Sunday protested in front of their children’s schools demanding that the government reconsider its distance learning decision.

“Give us the choice to choose,” read some of the placards  shown in photos of the protests posted online.

“Schools are not merely institutions for academic learning. Our children, particularly those in the first three grades, need to see other children, socialise and build life skills,” said Zahra Abbadi, one of the parents, who was present at the protest.

Abbadi told The Jordan Times over the phone that the protest was initially organised online, but later the participants decided to hold protests in front of schools .

“Adhering to defence orders, we decided not to stage a big protest, rather we would go in groups no bigger than 20 to our children’s schools, so that way there would be no dangerous gatherings,” added Abbadi.

Online and on the ground, the parents chanted “no to distance education,” “no to suspending school attendance”, “give parents the right to choose” and “my right to learn in my classroom”.

The founder of the online campaign, Aseel Jallad, said in a statement that “the experience of the second 2019-2020 semester and the current 2020-2021 semester has proven that online learning is ineffective”.

Jallad’s campaign, “My Right to Learn in My School .. No to Suspending Schools” asks for the availability of both direct and distance education, with parents being given the right to choose what they see as suitable for their children.

“Given that there is a difference of opinion between parents regarding what decision is best for the children, parents should be given the freedom to choose,” she added.

Samah Naser, another parent, said that she is “deeply concerned” about her two children. 

“I had to get my children private tutors, a pet, and expensive interactive educational games just to try and get them out of their psychological state of mind. The negative effects on our children’s knowledge, skills and behaviour is too much,” added Naser.

The protests are “not just our [parents’] demands, but our children’s, who wake up every day asking us ‘when can we go back to school?”, Naser said.

Education Minister Tayseer Nuaimi said in a statement that the ministry “respects the right of parents to express their opinions”, adding that he has “met many of them and explained to them the educational and health justifications for the shift to distance learning, which focuses on protecting students, teachers and society”.

He stated that the ministry is “aware of the deep effect on parents at this stage. This stage requires everyone to join hands in order to control the pandemic in order for children to return to schools”.

Nuaimi pointed out that the distance education decision is a “result of the epidemiological situation in the Kingdom and the increase in infection numbers, which has become a source of grave concern.”

The minister highlighted that many countries, not only Jordan, have suspended school and university attendance as a result of the second wave of the virus, stressing that “societal commitment to health protocols  will enable us to contain the pandemic and thus the return to schools”.

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