In other weird attempts to get reluctant adults vaccinated against COVID-19, an association of 4,000 private schools in Karnataka, a state in southern India, is planning to award students four extra points if they can prove that both their parents have taken their shots.
According to the proposed plan, students will receive an extra two points per vaccinated parent in the extra-curricular project component of their syllabus for 2021-2022.
D Shashi Kumar, general secretary of the Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka (KAMS), told The Indian Express, “All students across classes have to complete two social projects per year, marked under extracurricular assignments. The extra marks awarded – two each per parent – will be added to students’ tally. The maximum score for such projects range between 30 and 40, as per the internal assessment criteria set for each grade.”
When asked why this plan was being floated, Kumar referred to the success of an earlier plan that visited the sins of the father upon the child. “We had an earlier similar project, wherein for elections parents are supposed to compulsorily vote, and the voting motivation [sic] was done by children,” Kumar told VICE India, harking back to a 2019 programme in which students were awarded two extra points per parent by showing teachers the indelible ink on their parents’ fingers to prove they had voted.
“We’re planning a similar thing for vaccination also, because children definitely force their parents [in order to obtain the points]. There’s especially a lot of vaccine reluctance [among] rural parents, so we want to push this forward,” Kumar said.
While some schools in the state such as Shanthinikethana have already pledged to support the proposed plan, Kumar is confident that upon informing KAMS member schools of the plan, many more will implement the programme. “We will advise our 4,000 member schools [across 30 districts] to implement this, and we definitely expect most of our member schools to follow this,” he said.
What about children with only one parent? “If they have only one parent, they’ll get only two marks,” said Kumar. “It’s unfortunate, [but such cases are] an exception. [As with any plan] there will be some negative points.”
When asked if anything could be done to make the plan fair to children of single parents, Kumar responded with a laugh: “How can I insist that?”
Children with no living parents, he added, will be allowed to submit proof of vaccinated custodians or guardians.
PE Chidanand, state secretary of the Voice of Parents Association, told The Indian Express that he welcomed the proposed plan, but also suggested that the state government should look into its legality in order to make sure it did not violate any laws or fundamental rights.
He pointed out that the Meghalaya High Court had ruled in June that forced vaccinations violate fundamental rights, which naturally raises questions about emotionally blackmailing parents into getting vaccinated by penalising their children in school.
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