Three sixth form student councils, those of St Aloysius, De La Salle and St Martin’s, have penned an open letter to the authorities, strongly urging them to reopen post-secondary institutions as soon as possible.
The student councils said they should have a right to attend school, warning that the current system of pure online lessons is leaving its toll on students’ educational, psychological and social wellbeing.
Their letter, which was sent to Prime Minister Robert Abela, Education Minister Justyne Caruana, Health Minister Chris Fearne, and Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci, is being reproduced in full below:
“We are writing this letter in the name of all those students who haven’t gone to school for months. We believe that now the [COVID-19] situation has calmed down and things are returning to a certain degree of normality, students shouldn’t be the main victims of these restrictions. The authorities have repeatedly insisted on the importance of education to students and that ideally it should be physical.”
“We therefore believe that post-secondary students should also have the right to learn in a school environment and not behind their laptops at home. We believe that we shouldn’t be sacrificed because of the irresponsible behaviour of other sectors and industries. Why are shops which you yourselves described as non-essential allowed to open while post-secondary schools, which are essential, have had to remain closed?”
“We’re scared that this misbalance is having detrimental effects on our students, both on an educational level as well as a psychological and physical level. The reason is that it’s very easy to lose attention during online lessons for a number of reasons.”
“Spending hours in front of a computer screen, with all the continuous distractions in the background, certainly doesn’t help keep students focused during lessons.”
“This is over and above the social damage that students are suffering, where they’re not allowed to meet up with their friends simply because they’re apparently ‘mature enough’ to handle spending their entire school days behind a screen.”
“We need to integrate with other people just as primary and secondary students do. We should do this with absolute respect towards the current restrictions and the protocols set out by educational institutions.”
“We also believe that discipline is crucial. Therefore if a student is caught voluntarily breaking a measure, both at school and outside it, they should be punished just as they would be if they had broken the law in public.”
“This will obviously require effective and strong enforcement to ensure the measures are being followed as they should be. We also reiterate that students who want to continue following lessons from home because they’re vulnerable or because they feel safer at home should be allowed to do so and must receive the most effective education possible.”
“We thank you for listening to us and we’d like to make it clear that, as student representatives, we’re willing to discuss this issue with you and reach a compromise solution.”
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