NASA reported last week that global temperatures have risen 1.1 degrees above average in January 2016, making it the warmest January in record for a very, very long time. This follows unusually warmer traditional winter months of December and November and the next six months could be even warmer. It has been very hot and humid in Kochi these last few days so it looks like the NASA report will be vindicated.
Now, this trend of ‘abnormal’ climate gives some food for thought. We associate the months of January – March as pretty pleasant followed by the hot April and May, which is sometimes interspersed with violent thunderstorms. The monsoon starts in June and continue up until August/September and then things stay pretty pleasant for the next month or so before the retreating monsoons provide another warm/wet September/October. November and December make way for cooler climates before the cycle starts all over again. The logic behind giving schools two months off in April/May is the summer weather. However, with every month now being as warm or warmer than the previous month, and with rains also showing distracted behavior, maybe it’s time to have a re-look at the tenure of the school summer break. It’s abominable to have school kids with their backpacks trudging in the hot sun, which can lead to serious health issues.
A three month break for summer is what is needed if temperatures continue to rise like this. Traditionally, in the state of Kerala, classes are usually completed by end of March with vacation in April and May before the schools re-open in June. But with the weather intelligence we have today, classes should be completed by end-February and kids should be sent home. It think it’s a very fair point I’m making here. Most schools do not have even working ceiling fans in the classrooms. Kids lose plenty of water as a result of perspiration and water bottles more often than not run dry by the time they reach home leaving the kids with a parched throat. Add to this the mandatory physical education sessions – they may not complain because they are too busy playing, but the harsh sun is known to have a dire impact on adults, so you can actually pity with the kids. It’s cruelty, to say the least. We grew up enjoying being in the sun but then the heat was bearable in the 80s and 90s, but today’s kids will not in this phase of the 21st century.
I can understand the logistics of an academic year. With teachers in a race against time to finish the syllabus, it may raise more than a few eyebrows when we talk about sending kids for vacation a month ahead of schedule. However, with a little bit of advanced planning, completing the syllabus can be easily achieved. That is a far better approach than dragging kids to school in March which will only sap their energy further. At a time when we need to change the way we do everything from farming to eating habits because of the weather, it makes a lot of sense to extend school vacations too.