New academic year begins online.
New academic year begins online.
BL Soni

After almost eight weeks of online schooling since the start of the academic year, teachers of state-run schools claim it has limited reach. Poor attendance is a major issue in live online classes despite including innovative methods of teaching and learning, they say.

With the start of the academic year 2020-21 from June 15, state-run schools are conducting daily online classes as physical schools are shut on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last two months, teachers claim to have observed irregularity in daily attendance.

There are days when there are just 20 students attending an online lecture out of a total strength of 60, said Niranjana Dubey, a teacher. Dubey said, "I have observed that students do not attend live online classes every day. Few of us have tried to make teaching and learning interesting by introducing innovative methods and interactive techniques. We understand it is difficult for students to suddenly grasp all the information via virtual classes with no classroom experience. However, as of now, online teaching is the only alternative way."

Teachers state some probable reasons for poor attendance might be the lack of accessibility of internet connection, absence of devices such as smartphones or computers, lack of enthusiasm for distance learning, diversions such as household chores or engagement in employment activities due to poverty and no motivation from parents.

Mithali Nair, a teacher said, "Some students have returned to their native villages during the lockdown period. They might not have the accessibility or availability of internet connection in those remote districts. Some do not have access to smartphones throughout the day so they cannot attend live online class every day at a specific time."

Nilesh Rathod, a senior teacher, said, "Due to the financial crisis in the lockdown, some students are either willingly or forcefully helping their parents out with daily household chores while their parents are doing odd jobs. Some students from below poverty line families are being forced to work to support their family. All of this diverts a child from online schooling."

Parents play an important role in online education even more than teachers, said Sayali Sen, a counsellor and educator. Sen said, "Parents need to take the extra initiative in online classes. They need to ensure students attend classes regularly, learn and complete their homework. Teachers are now present virtually on a digital screen, so parents need to serve as teachers and fill the gap of a physical connection."

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