Telangana schools reopen after over 150 days, online classes from Sept 1
While over one lakh teachers resumed their duties on Thursday, the actual teaching activity will commence from September 1 through online mode. On day one, the teachers began preparations for running of online classes for students as part of e-learning and distance education.Updated: Aug 27, 2020, 21:48 IST
Around 30,000 government schools in Telangana on Thursday re-opened after a gap of 158 days to kickstart the academic year for 2020-21, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
While over one lakh teachers resumed their duties on Thursday, the actual teaching activity will commence from September 1 through online mode. On day one, the teachers began preparations for running of online classes for students as part of e-learning and distance education.
Special chief secretary (education) Chitra Ramachandran said the online classes would be conducted on various digital, TV, T-SAT platforms across all schools. “All the teachers shall prepare e-content, lesson plans etc,” she said.
Ramachandran said the alternative calendar prepared by the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) would be followed for online classes. “Separate instructions for regular classes will be issued as per the Government of India guidelines as and when reopening of schools is feasible,” she said.
The schools in Telangana were forced to close down abruptly on March 22 following the outbreak of Covid-19 and remained shut since then. In the previous academic year (2019-20), they lost 33 days and had to cancel all the examinations, promoting the students to higher classes.
As per the original academic calendar, the schools were supposed to reopen on June 12, but they could not due to Covid-19 pandemic. The teachers have lost 76 days in the 2020-21 academic year. Taking into account 49 days of summer holidays, the schools have reopened after a gap of 158 days.
Telangana teachers’ federation leader E Raghunandan Rao said the functioning of schools without students and conducting online classes were easier said than done. “So far, there is no academic calendar and no proper guidelines as to how to conduct the online classes from schools,” he said.
Rao pointed out that most of the schools were in the interior areas and had no access to high bandwidth internet facility to conduct the online classes. “As a matter of fact, the teachers have better wi-fi facility at their homes than in schools. They can conduct classes from their homes, instead of going all the way to the schools,” Rao argued.
Telangana Pranteeya Teachers Union president K Hanumantha Rao said the biggest problem for the teachers is lack of transportation facility. “On the first day today, most of the teachers somehow went to schools by making their own transport arrangements. But it cannot be done every day. There is no public transport at present and even if it is introduced, it is risky for the teachers to commute every day in this pandemic situation,” he said.
Not even 10-15 percent of the school children have access to mobile phones or tablets. “They cannot afford to buy smartphones with high bandwidth at this stage. The government says those who do not have phones can follow lessons on televisions. But who will monitor the students’ attendance in the distance mode?” he asked.
Meanwhile, the state government told the high court that it was preparing guidelines for distance and online education for school students, including how to conduct classes through satellite television and Doordarshan.
The court, which was hearing a public interest litigation petition against online classes, questioned how will students get their doubts clarified. It asked the petitioners to come out with their objections on the government’s stand on online education.