The entire education system suddenly woke up to study the virus, its impact, mutations, and preventive measures, following the outbreak of Covid-19 in the beginning of 2020, in India. The virus was detected in 2019 and therefore named Covid-19.
The Microbiologists Society of India (MSI), established in 1996, immediately started generating awareness about the virus. The teachers in microbiology and their students undertook a large number of programmes to generate awareness about the virus, its effect and preventive measures.
This year the MSI has undertaken a mission to inform school students about what is microbiology and biotechnology. The theme for this current academic session is ‘School children literacy mission in Microbiology and Biotechnology’.
Dr Sanjeev Patankar, National Convenor of the Society, informed The Live Nagpur that the mission was launched in March itself. However, the active participation of teachers and students in schools started with the opening of schools in June. This is a national programme and is being implemented across the nation.
The school children are informed about pathogens. Good and bad pathogens, pathogens useful for maintaining good health, pathogens affecting a healthy person, probiotics etc. They are also given information about the role of pathogens in health science, agriculture, food and other fields related to human, animal and plant life.
The students are also given career options in microbiology, biotechnology and other related fields. Health science is not limited to becoming a doctor, Dr Patankar said.
Dr Patankar stated that the response from schools in non-metro cities is much better. The school administration and local authorities expressed more interest compared to urban schools. He quoted a very good response from Akola, Washim and Amravati in the Vidarbha region. Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh states have taken a keen interest in generating awareness among school children.
More than 1,000 microbiology teachers and about 20,000 students have enrolled with MSI for the programme. Dr Patankar, a retired professor in microbiology who is settled in Nagpur, has taken efforts to awaken the teachers and college students to work in this direction. He is supported by the President of the MSI Dr Arvind Deshmukh and other office bearers. The Society convenes meetings to discuss the issues raised in different parts of the country and then plan the programmes.