The school break is almost over for students from Classes 9 to 12. The Centre plans to restart classes in the distance mode next week, with teaching via dedicated TV and radio channels in English and Hindi, Human Resource Development Secretary Amit Khare said on Saturday. Many schools have been shut since early March due to the pandemic, even before the countrywide lockdown was announced last week.
“We are planning to start the next academic year virtually. We don’t want students to waste their time and then suffer when the schools reopen. We do not know how long the shutdown will last. That is a health decision. But the next academic year may get compressed,” Mr. Khare told The Hindu on Saturday. “Many students are already studying at home during this shutdown, but this will allow them to do it in a structured manner.”
This means that the new academic calendar will begin as usual in April for classes 9 to 12, though the last academic year may have been somewhat truncated, with examinations postponed in some cases. In fact, the CBSE exams for classes 10 and 12 have not been completed.
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“We have asked the NIOS [National Institute of Open Schooling] to create a structured programme for schools class-wise. It is being done along with NCERT [National Council of Educational Research and Training] using their syllabus,” said Mr. Khare, adding that while content has already been prepared for secondary and higher secondary students, work is also starting to prepare material for lower classes as well.
This material, available in Hindi and English, is ready for use by schools following the NIOS or the CBSE syllabus. However, for State boards, the bigger challenge is language. “We have offered DIKSHA [mobile app] to States as a platform to provide content in local languages,” Mr. Khare said.
DIKSHA is a mobile app for teachers, parents and students which already provides access to NCERT textbooks and lessons, following the regular school curriculum.
The HRD Secretary said the Tamil Nadu government has already approached the Centre, asking for time on the TV channels dedicated for this purpose. “If States are willing to produce the content in local languages, we can give them 2-3 hours on our channel as well,” he said.