The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Education Department is planning to begin online learning classes for its school students possibly from June 15 onwards. Civic education officer Mahesh Palkar confirmed and said that currently they are discussing on ways to undertake the new learning practice amid lockdown due to pandemic as all schools are shut. "We have 20 days to begin the initiative but at present we are finding out the data over how many students have smartphones. We plan to start a full fledged teachers training programme from June 1 on how they can teach students online, what all applications they can use. However, the first training workshop for three days will be held on May 29, 30 and June 1. Wherein teachers will be given training to create awareness among students on COVID and cleanliness habits once the online classes commences, " he said.
There are total 2,245 schools having nearly 20,650 teachers and more than seven lakh students. While the BMC schools are 1,133, the remaining are BMC approved private aided and unaided schools. Meanwhile it has already trained newly appointed 20 teachers from the CBSE and ICSE board schools (one each) in 16 days, he informed.
As BMC is still in discussions stage several other private schools have already started training and online learning classes for their school students especially for class 10. When asked Palkar, which grade students will be taught on priority, he replied same "We are yet to find out that whether online classes for our can be conducted as availability of internet connection, phone is required for that propose." Since students in BMC schools usually come from those families who are mostly daily wage earners, living in slums thus having a internet connection and smartphone is a major task before BMC to undertake the initiative.
Anjali Naik, civic education committee chairman told the FPJ, " We have distributed tabs to class eighth, ninth and tenth students. So online classes for these students can be possible. However, we are finding out who all students have smart phones. Moreover, we are also considering whether schools can be reopened by maintaining one student on one bench so to maintain social distancing. However, these plans are in nascent stage."
While Sainath Durge, member of civic education committee when asked about preparations of BMC over starting online classes he said, "I doubt if that is possible as several teachers have been assigned on COVID duty. Currently the priority before all of us is to control the spread of coronavirus."
Interestingly, several schools have also been acquired by BMC for setting up COVID care centres and quarantine facility. "In Mulund T ward, 120 beds facility has been set up in the Mithaghar Road BMC school. Similarly, several such civic schools have been acquired in different wards of BMC. Therefore, if it plans to begin schools by allowing one student on one bench so what about students studying in those schools which have been turned into a temporary quarantine centre, " stated senior BJP corporator Prakash Gangadhare.