Other States

Madhya Pradesh’s online classes not reaching majority of students

Representational image

Representational image   | Photo Credit: N. Bashkaran

Just 30% of secondary and senior secondary students in government schools of Madhya Pradesh have been regularly reached through a home-based learning programme which began after schools shut in view of COVID-19 pandemic, said the State Department of School Education.

The department under the ‘Humara Ghar, Humara Vidyalaya’ programme planned to reach 22 lakh students from classes 9 to 12, but just around 6,60,000 — 20% through TV and 10% through WhatsApp — were reached from July 18, when the programme began, to July 25.

Families of 30% of the students don’t possess TVs or smartphones having Internet connection to avail of the study material, said Kamna Acharya, Additional Director, Directorate of Public Instruction. “The remaining students didn’t avail themselves of modules regularly,” she said.

“When smartphones with internet connections are there, parents often take them to work. It is a huge challenge to continue the regular curriculum,” added Ms. Acharya. Reaching to students in the 89 tribal dominated blocks in districts such as Alirajpur, Barwani and Jhabua was a task. After teachers’ workshop, said an order issued by the Directorate’s Commissioner Jayshree Kiyawat on July 13, students had to be divided into various groups.

The one having mobile phones, wherein if a family has one phone it could be used by all its children. Those having TV, who must watch the telecast during fixed time slots on Doordarshan.

As for those not having both TV and mobile phones, the incharge teacher must check if the panchayat has a TV and arrange for students to take lessons from it or devise modes of learning after discussion with students. The fourth, those having facilities but are not interested. “This group has the maximum number of students. Explain to students that this year due to COVID-19 learning at home is important. Teachers should regularly interact with such students,” Ms. Kiyawat informed teachers in the order.

Further, tests would be conducted every Saturday, for which answer sheets could be submitted using WhatsApp or physically when the schools reopen, explained Ms. Acharya. “In Excellence and Modern schools across the State, online classes are also being held through video conferencing,” she said.

According to a recent National Sample Survey - Household Social Consumption on Education in India - just 9.7% households in rural areas and 35.4% in urban areas of Madhya Pradesh have an internet connection.

Any educational programme without human intervention and agency didn’t carry sense for most students, contended Anil Sadgopal, educationist. “Objection to the online mode is not just limited to digital access, but from teachers who can’t know if students are indeed learning, and alter their modes of teaching and adapt accordingly,” he said.

Online teaching may prompt drop outs as in the United States, Mr. Sadgopal pointed out. “With the aspect of the dehumanising education we actually depoliticise it. Neither students nor teachers can interact with one another, can’t come together and raise voice against injustices,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sachin Jain of Vikas Samvad, which works for child rights, suggested the year be declared a zero year for schooling but not learning. “Community learning without requiring extra facilities can be incorporated. Self-learning through personality-development, culture, citizenship and constitution modules, that can be prepared quickly, can be encouraged,” he said.

As for online learning, he said the policy was anti-children. “This way only enthusiasm towards education will be killed.”

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 4:14:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/madhya-pradeshs-online-classes-not-reaching-majority-of-students/article32281126.ece

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