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Pandemic lulled students’ interest in leisure pursuits: Experts

K Rangaraj, a PT teacher in a college, pointed out that every athlete should exercise or play regularly to keep fit.

Pandemic lulled students’ interest in leisure pursuits: Experts

CHENNAI: More than 3 years after the pandemic, students in Tamil Nadu continue to struggle with extra-curricular activities in schools and colleges.

Experts opine that COVID-induced lockdown and the restrictions that followed have prevented students from maintaining a strict exercise and nutritional regimen, which are both crucial for their stamina.

“We find significant reductions in extra-curricular activities both in and out of schools and colleges. Though the pandemic situation ended around 2 years ago, students are still reeling from the lockdown, and struggling to participate in any form of physical activities including in sports, social work and cultural programmes,” said M Jayashree, a city-based student’s consultant.

Though many parents have gone along with their children for counselling, she said that counselling alone cannot help. “All the stakeholders including institutions should come up with a resolution,” Jayashree added.

K Rangaraj, a PT teacher in a college, pointed out that every athlete should exercise or play regularly to keep fit. “In sports, consistency is key. Students have to be disciplined with their exercise regimen, food habits and practice sessions. But those from economically poor backgrounds could not do that during the lockdown compared to their rich counterparts, who were able to buy sports equipment to practice at home,” he explained.

Rangaraj said that for students who took up track and field events besides swimming, retaining/maintaining their record-timing is most important. “To improve by just a second in track events and swimming take months of regular practice and lots of motivation from coaches, teachers and peers. The lockdown and restrictions put a stop to that. Many students who did well in sports before the pandemic are still struggling to maintain their earlier record,” he rued.

KR Nandhakumar, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Private Nursery, Primary, Matriculation, Higher Secondary, and CBSE Schools Association, said that students’ performance and participation in extra-curricular activities have dropped drastically in the last five years. “There are several student’s clubs like Red Cross, Scout, NCC and NSS. When the academic year begins, students’ enrollment is good. But they drop out quickly,” he said. “More steps need to be taken to improve awareness about the student’s clubs and their activities.”

A senior official from School Education Department said the clubs in school have been restructured to engage with children and groom them with life lessons. “In every school, specific periods were allocated towards club activities along with library and sports to enable regular exposure in literature, art, drama, science, mathematics and GK. Over 1 lakh students were selected at the school level and encouraged to participate at block and district levels. Students would be selected across all competitions and taken on exposure visits abroad,” he elaborated.

R Sathyanarayana
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