We Want to Learn Too: K’taka’s Govt School Kids Want Classes on TV
With thousands of govt schools shut since March, officials say decision on reopening will be taken ‘after September’
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
“As private schools and institutions are conducting online classes, they are getting the education through phones and laptops whereas we the students of government (sic) are not able to learn anything as there are no facilities.
"So, I request you to conduct or arrange classes on television so that we the students of government schools can also get opportunity to learn in this pandemic situation.”
So goes a letter written by Rabecca, a class 10 student of a government school in Bengaluru, in early July, months after schools were first shut in March due to the coronavirus lockdown.
On 10 July, students from across the state staged a poster campaign, highlighting the various challenges to accessing education and demanding equality in learning.
“Private schools are running online classes, but there is no such facility for my children. It is important for them to study so that they can have a bright future. This is why I request that classes be held on TV to help government school children.”Sangeeta, parent in Bengaluru
With the subject of online classes dominating the discussion in the state, following the lockdown, there still remains no concrete plan for over 50,000 government and government-aided schools in Karnataka.
While the Karnataka High Court has come out with a set of guidelines setting out the duration and frequency of online lessons for private school students from pre-school to Class 10, parents and students of government schools are requesting the government to accommodate their interests as well.
According to officials of the state Public Instruction department, a decision on reopening schools will be taken “after September”.
As of 20 July, the state had reported over 65,000 positive cases of COVID-19, putting a big question mark on the reopening plan for schools.
Meanwhile, students and parents of government school students believe that a delay in reopening schools coupled with an absence of e-learning facilities will be detrimental for students in the long run.
‘Worried They Will Lose Interest in Studies’
With government schools already having a high percentage of drop-outs, family members of students are concerned that whenever schools do reopen, kids would have lost interest to attend.
Stalin, a college student, whose siblings study in a government school in Bengaluru, said that since schools were shut, the kids had been spending their time playing games on mobiles or sitting idle.
“My brother used to be busy going to school and doing the homework etc but now there is nothing to do. He is simply sitting at home and playing games on a mobile phone. I am scared that he will lose all interest in studying. I am speaking not just for my siblings but for all government school students. We don’t want their futures to be spoilt,” he said.
A parent, who did not wish to be identified, said that classes should be conducted, at least on television, so that children could keep up the practice of studying.
“They should make it so that classes can be taken from home, like on TV. When schools were open, she used to go to school daily, and not miss a single day. Even when schools were closed, she used to watch some of the revision lessons they were running for Class 10 students on TV and try to study,” the parent said of her daughter who is currently in Class 9.
In lieu of midday meals, that served as a massive incentive for people to send their children to school, families were supposed to get proportionate amount of rations. However, in many cases, families reported getting them only for one month - April - since the lockdown came into effect.
Proposal to Run Lessons on TV Channels Awaiting Govt Approval
KG Jagadeesha, Commissioner for Public Instruction (CPI), told The Quint that a proposal to ‘procure’ dedicated TV channels was pending with the finance department.
“Through our post-survey lockdown of students, we learnt that a majority have access to TVs. The plan is to procure dedicated TV channels and run lessons there. The proposal is with government. If approved, we will start with Classes 1-10,” he said.
Confirming that no new books had been supplied to government school students yet for the new academic session, the CPI said that the government was considering supplying books at home so that they can start studying.
Some Govt School Teachers a Step Ahead
Not letting a lack of resources or a classroom setup stand in the way, some government teachers in Bengaluru have started upskilling, making themselves digitally literate to conduct classes from home via Zoom or WhatsApp calls.
Udaya Jyothi R, a government school science teacher in Devarabeesenahalli, Bengaluru, has been taking classes for her students from home for the last few weeks, using a combination of live classes and recorded videos.
“The first challenge I had was to engage the children in educational activities. Earlier I was not digitally literate, so I was fearful of taking online classes. However, with help from the SRF foundation, me and a few other teachers were able to become digitally literate,” she says.
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