Phone calls, worksheets: Sisodia charts out plan to help offline studentsUpdated: Jul 02, 2020 23:13 IST
Addressing concerns over the “digital divide” in the education sector, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia Thursday announced that students of 1,030 government schools in the national capital will engage in “learning with a human feel” and have increased interactions with their teachers over phone.
Beginning Monday, government schools will resume online classes with three different strategies for class groups between kindergarten and class 8, class 9 and 10, and class 11 and 12.
According to the Union ministry of home affairs and the Delhi government directives, all schools in Delhi will remain closed till July 31 in view of the Covid-19 crisis. The government had announced that schools and educational institutions can opt for online or distance learning. However, several stakeholders have pointed out that many students could not attend these classes owing to lack of internet access and/or smartphones and computers.
“The digital divide should not come in the way of children’s access to learning opportunities. We have formulated a plan wherein the focus will be on learning with a human feel. This si to ensure that students and teachers stay connected directly,” Sisodia said during a press conference Thursday.
Before the summer vacation for government schools began on May 11, students up to class 8 were receiving text messages from schools with learning activities. For students slated to appear for their board examination next year, the directorate of education had organised online classes with two or three sessions a day.
From Monday, students from kindergarten to class 8 will receive one worksheet each with questions, tasks or activities on basic reading, writing, understanding, basic numeracy, and happiness curriculum via WhatsApp. Class 9 and 10 students will each receive two or three subject-specific worksheets a day, while those in class 11 and 12 will have online classes.
“We have learnt that around 10-20% students do not have access to WhatsApp. For such students, parents can come to the school on a designated day and collect the learning material and worksheets for their wards. Teachers can offer guidance to these students over phone,” Sisodia said.
Heads of schools have been asked to ensure class teachers have updated WhatsApp groups and lists of parents whose children are not available on these groups. Students of classes 11 and 12 will attend live online classes in 12 subjects. Teachers will follow up students over phone or WhatsApp to clear any doubts. However, those students who don’t have access to online classes can contact their teachers and they will facilitate offline learning through parents and school management committee (SMC) members,” Sisodia said.
On July 1, the department also issued a circular over reconstitution of SMCs – comprising parents, school officials, and area residents– since the existing term is over. “An active SMC is most essential to take remote learning initiatives of DOE to the community,” the circular read.
Emphasising that the role of teachers will be crucial in this plan, Sisodia said, “Regular teachers, guest teachers, and contractual teachers will be engaged for this plan.”
The announcement is significant as over 20,000 guest teachers were rendered jobless after their contracts lapsed in May. The All India Guest Teachers Association welcomed the move and requested the government to pay them salaries for the months of May and June.
School principals will now be working to track students who have been inactive on WhatsApp class groups. “Most of our students are active but a few may have difficulty in accessing the app. We will call such students over phone, check if they need any help and then work out a plan accordingly,” Rakesh Semalty, principal of a government school in Nand Nagri, said.
With the education department focusing on a one-to-one interaction with students over phone or WhatsApp, the teaching community has a monumental task ahead of them.
Most students have smartphones and those who don’t have are often stressed and feel inferior. It will be difficult to counsel such children and ensure that their learning continues. Also, the department should ensure that proper sanitization facilities are provided in schools when parents visit to collect learning aids,” Pankaj Kumar, who teaches science and computer science at a government school in Shalimar Bagh, said.
Private schools in the capital are also continuing with online lessons. While most students in such schools have access to online classes. But students from economically weaker sections have difficulty in attending these classes as they have no smartphones or internet. NGO Justice For All has filed a petition in this regard before the Delhi high court and the case is currently being heard.