Wary colleges seek clarity on resumption of offline lectures

Degree colleges under the University of Mumbai (MU) have sought clarity on the resumption of offline lectures for the academic year from the state Higher Education Ministry. Students and degree college principals said that the state should at least allow practical and laboratory lectures to be conducted offline in a phased manner.

With more than four months since the start of the academic year via online lectures, degree colleges are now planning to start offline lectures, especially for Science and other practical courses. Anushree Lokur, principal of Ramnarain Ruia College, Matunga, said, "We are waiting for some clarity from the state government and Higher Education Department regarding the resumption of offline lectures at least for practicals. Students want to attend practicals and laboratory lectures offline, but they have no choice."

While Parag Ajagaonkar, principal of NM College, Vile Parle, said, "We have not received any guidelines from the state on the resumption of offline lectures as of now. Mostly, we will have to continue with online education for this semester. We have tried new methods, such as the completion of online assignments via virtual classes so that students do not miss out on any academic learning."

Students said, though online lectures are feasible, they are missing out on practical learning, exposure and field work. Rajkumar Dubey, a second-year Bachelor of Science (B Sc) student said, "I need to perform experiments and attend laboratory lectures in order to understand various concepts of my course modules. Offline lectures should begin at least for practicals. The college can call us in batches while maintaining COVID-19 standard operating procedures."

Professors of degree colleges said the state will have to start training for all students and teachers if they allow colleges to conduct offline lectures. Nirali Roy, professor of a Chembur college said, "The state should not rush, but resume offline lectures in phases. Also, the state government will have to allow all students and teachers to commute by suburban train services if offline lectures resume."

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