Students, school staff in Maharashtra request local trains services to attend offline lectures

Mumbai: With the state higher and technical education department mulling over resuming offline lectures for universities and degree colleges, students, teaching and non-teaching staff said they will be able to commute only if they are permitted by suburban trains. Some degree colleges want to continue with online education for this semester while others want to reopen offline lectures for practical laboratory classes and field work.

Students said the state government will have to start local train services if they plan on starting offline lectures. Vijay Panchal, a student of second year Bachelor of Arts (BA) programme, said, "I will have to commute to South Mumbai to attend lectures from my residence at Mira Road. How am I supposed to commute if I am not permitted to travel by local trains?"

While, Prakriti Joshi, a student of third year Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), said, "Though I want to attend practical and participate in field work as part of my course modules, I am scared to commute by local trains due to Covid-19 risks. Also, I am scared of transmitting the coronavirus infection to my parents when I return home."

Professors and non-teaching staff of degree colleges said lectures should be resumed only for certain practical subjects in a phased manner. Sunita Ranjan, a professor said, "A majority of students and teachers have got a hang of online education by now. We can continue with virtual classes for subjects which can be taught online while offline lectures can be conducted only for practical courses."

While, Rajul Singh, a non-teaching staff said, "For now, only practical course lectures should be resumed offline to avoid risks. But, the state government will have to allow non-teaching staff to commute by local train services because we cannot afford to commute otherwise."

On January 9, 2021, the state higher and technical education minister Uday Samant said the Maharashtra government will take a decision about reopening colleges by January 20. Samant said, "We are mulling over reopening colleges with 50 per cent capacity as a first step." The final decision will be taken after discussion with the Chief Minister and other stakeholders.

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