Online education out of reach for students living in rural areas of J&K

JAMMU: Vast population of students in the rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory has remained deprived of online education as on one side they don’t have Android phones due to poor economic condition and on the other side the Government has failed to initiate steps for providing educational contents through alternate modes like television and radio.
Like last year, following imposition of lockdown during the second wave of Nobel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir laid stress on imparting education to the students through online mode.
Accordingly, the teachers of all the Government educational institutions started disseminating the educational contents through WhatsApp, Zoom App, Facebook and You Tube Channel so that studies of students don’t get affected this year.
Unlike urban areas where majority of the students and their parents have Android phones through which online education can be easily imparted, vast population of students in the rural areas of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has remained deprived of this facility mainly because majority of them don’t have Android device because of their poor economic condition.
“Though we are giving feedback to the higher authorities that majority of students are getting education through online mode but the fact is that pupils in the rural areas are finding it difficult rather impossible to obtain benefit of this mechanism mainly because they don’t have mobile handsets on which WhatsApp, Zoom App, Facebook and You Tube Channel can be operated”, admitted a number of Zonal Education Officers (ZEOs) of the School Education Department while wishing anonymity.
They further said, “even if one family has Android phone two or three students cannot participate in the online class simultaneously as such they remain deprived of the educational contents”, adding “our teachers are receiving a number of calls from such students for clarification of doubts on different subjects, which is practically not possible”.
“Last year community classes were started in the rural areas for the convenience of students but this year because of worst scenario vis-a-vis pandemic the same initiative cannot be taken as of now”, they further said, adding “in such a situation providing educational contents through alternate modes like television and radio is the only option to make up for the losses being suffered by the students in their studies”.
They again said, “even in urban areas large number of families don’t have separate phones to facilitate their children to take part in classes simultaneously through online mode as such students are facing immense difficulties”, adding “no doubt because of pandemic schools cannot be opened but all the available options must be exercised by the Government for the convenience of pupils”.
The worst sufferers are the students residing in the areas situated along the borders with Pakistan as in such areas even those having Android phones are finding it difficult to get educational contents through social-media applications mainly because of restrictions on the internet for security reasons, official sources said.
They disclosed that Chief Education Officers (CEOs) of several border districts have also projected this problem before the authorities of the School Education Department for initiating alternate measures.
“Last year Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR) were roped in by the Government to reach out to the student community who was facing hardships due to Coranavirus lockdown and these electronic channels facilitated delivery of lessons to the students to cope up with their academic losses”, they said, adding “half an hour duration tele-class on a specific subject was aired regularly and even repeated on Doordarshan’s regional channel DD Kashir”.
However, this year no such arrangement has been made by the School Education Department despite being aware of the difficulties being faced by the students of rural areas.
When contacted, Director School Education Jammu Dr Ravi Shanker Sharma said, “I too have received the information about the difficulties being faced by the students of the rural and border areas”, adding “we are having discussion with DD Gyan, a channel of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Doordarshan and All India Radio and hopefully some decision will be taken in the coming days”.
“I have issued directions for making repository of lectures on different subjects so that once the electronic channels are roped in there is no problem in immediate dissemination of educational contents to the students”, he further said, adding “once the situation improves we will also start community classes in the rural areas to make up for the losses being suffered by the students at present”.


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