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Schools to remain shut till December 10, government to provide tablets for e-learning

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON NOV 30, 2020 11:06 PM IST

The state directorate of school education on Monday issued a directive extending the closure of both private and government schools in the state for students and teachers till December 10. To ensure that students of government schools do not lose out, the state government is mulling distribution of tablets to students of classes 8-12.

Haryana home minister Anil Vij on Saturday had said that schools in the state will remain shut for 10 more days in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. Previously, the state education department had ordered the closure of all government and private schools in Haryana till November 30 as Covid-19 cases among school students started to spike, after physical classroom sessions for classes 9 to 12 had resumed on November 2.

Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Saturday had said that the state government had plans to provide free tablets to students of classes 8-12 studying in government schools for digital education in view of Covid-19. Students belonging to various social groups, including minorities and backward groups, would be covered as part of the scheme, Khattar had shared.

Under the scheme, tablets with preloaded content such as digital books, test banks, videos and other reference materials for various classes, as per the syllabus of government schools, will be shared with students. The tablets will have to be returned once the student completes class 12.

While digital divide has been a challenge across various sectors across the state, its impact was exacerbated in Nuh, which happens to be among the most backward district in the country, as per the NITI Aayog. During the lockdown, the Nuh district education department has started neighbourhood schools in various villages where local teachers are being asked to teach small groups of children, while complying with physical distancing norms in view of the twin challenges of poverty and internet connectivity in the region.

Anup Singh Jakhar, district education officer (DEO) Nuh, said that education blocks across the state that were considered backward would benefit from the scheme. “There are certain blocks that are considered backward on the educations front. Nuh is among them. This scheme would benefit students since the lack of smartphones and internet access is a huge setback for online learning here,” said Jakhar.

He said while detailed instructions regarding the distribution of tablets had not been shared so far, the district could implement the scheme on the lines of a book bank scheme that was started last year, wherein books were shared with students on a temporary basis. “Last year, we had purchased books for students in classes 9 to 12 and created a book bank. Students used the books throughout the year and returned them at the end of the academic year. We can adopt the same approach for tablets. Students can return the tablets after graduating,” said Jakhar.

He said that the step would aid the learning process in the region since physical classes had been suspended once again in view of rising Covid-19 cases. Lack of smartphones and the internet was a major factor behind the disruption of lessons, Jakhar said. “Students are grappling with various issues ranging from the lack of smartphones to internet access. Many children have moved out along with families and connecting with them has been difficult,” said Jakhar.

Educationist Gowri Ishwaran said that while the move was a good starting point, implementation on the ground would be a key factor in determining the success of the initiative. “While the lack of internet access can be a limiting factor, having preloaded content is better than having nothing. Right now, private schools are having seamless online classes whereas children in the rural areas are being left behind. The initiative is a step in the right direction and it can be perfected over time to plug gaps,” said Ishwaran.

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An aerial view of Cyberhub, in Gurugram. (Sanjeev Verma/ Hindustan Times)
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