Does the lack of smartphones among students hinder access to education?
Provide mobiles at cheaper rates
The survey suggests that in most rural areas, students do not have a smartphone to attend online classes. Even though the government is working towards giving better education, there is need of technological education, which includes computer literacy. In my opinion, textbooks must be provided and classes should be conducted once a week in schools to check students' performance and students of a particular class should be divided into groups for online studies. Tablets must be distributed among students of rural and remote areas. However, poor internet connection is one of the major problems being faced by students in rural areas. The pandemic has affected people, especially parents and children's education. The government should provide smartphones and tablets at cheaper rates to students, especially the poor ones.
Khushpreet Kaur Brar
All political parties must come forward
Keeping in view the rapidly rising cases of Covid-19 in the state, classroom teaching is not possible in the near future. The government has started online studies but a majority of the poor students do not have a smartphone. Hence their studies are suffering. Till date, the government could distribute phones to students of Class XII only. As the future of the young students of the state is at stake, all major political parties should provide free a smartphone to each student of the state. They should put in all their energy just as they do during the election time. They even go abroad for collecting funds for the elections. With the same enthusiasm and spirit seen at the poll time, they should collect funds and provide phones to students. Besides, big business houses should also donate money for this cause under corporate social responsibility.
More Innovative ideas are needed
School education during the Covid era is heavily dependent on mobile phones. NCERT survey is based on students of the Education Ministry-run Kendriya Vidyalayas, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, which are meant for gifted students from rural areas and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools to understand the effectiveness of online learning measures. Majorities of these students belong to well to do families and can bear all the expenses. Of course, the situation is likely to be far grimmer at state-funded schools and the poorer private schools where the majority of students study. Students find online classes difficult or burdensome with most students facing problems in understanding various concepts. Moreover, poor internet connectivity, difficulty in accessing content on phones, lack of knowledge in using devices for learning, erratic power supply and non-availability of devices are among the major hindrances hampering online learning. Paucity of devices among teachers and their unfamiliarity with the devices and online teaching methods also created roadblocks. The government should provide required gadgets to the students who do not possess the amenities for online classes. Community mobile banks may be created where people can donate old but functional mobile phones. Help may be taken from governments, charity organisations, companies under CSR and alumni for obtaining smart phones.
Gursharan Singh Kainth
No substitute for classroom teaching
There is no denying the fact that the lack of phones hinders access to education. Around 27% students allegedly have no access to smart phones and laptops to attend online classes despite the government having distributed smartphones to class XII students free of charge to fulfill one of its promises made during the State Assembly elections. Many students and parents assert that the erratic power supply plays spoilsport in their online teaching-learning process. Lack of knowledge of using devices effectively for concrete educational purposes further adds to their woes. Besides, teachers are not well versed with online teaching methodology and techniques to impart education to students for whom it is altogether a novel proposition to receive education online. Though online teaching is well intended , it cannot be the substitute for the classroom system.
Tarsem S Bumrah
School libraries can lend a helping hand
In the new normal everything across the spectrum is under transformation. However, education has been sorely hit. The only viable solution visible to this predicament is taking online sessions the way the courts are operating. No doubt that the online education system is discriminatory in itself. Not every student can have access to it as lack of mobile phones, internet connection and skills to operate it but it is a necessary evil. Though the government is doing their best by distributing smartphones but it will only benefit a handful. A lot more can be done in this direction to ensure accessibility to all. In the first place, teachers should adopt different ways to teach students. Taking online sessions via mobile apps would not suffice. Schools and colleges should allow students to use library so that who do not have books or cannot afford to buy can get it's xerox from the school libraries. Teachers should also come forward to guide the children through their studies. They should be approachable so that students do not hesitate to bring their problems to them.
TV, radio could be the answer
School education in times of pandemic is heavily dependent on mobile phones, laptops, etc. Most households have access to mobile phones. But at the same time many also don't have smartphones. Although the state has provided free smartphones to class XII students, same should be done for class X and Class XI too. The government should provide poor students with electronic devices to help them participate in e-learning. Broadband, telecom and electronic companies should also help by offering cheap smartphones and free of cost or cheap data plans to such students. Further steps can be taken for making education easily accessible to students which include telecasting lectures for students on TV channels and audio classes could be aired on the radio. Worksheets and other materials can be delivered to students with newspapers in all languages on weekly basis and a query and assignment box can be installed at the school, wherein the students can drop off their assignments and queries.
Many poor students need govt help
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the government and private schools across the country to suspend classroom teaching and shift to online classes. The Punjab Government has promised that the distribution of smartphones to Class XII students studying in government schools will be completed by November 2020 to facilitate e-learning during these difficult times. With the help of the Internet, learning has shifted to online medium. The states all over the country are now beginning to go for e-learning. Now the question is: “Will the government be able to fulfil the promise?” A large number of students of government schools are still unable to attend online classes because they do not have the money to buy a smartphone. These students are totally dependent on the government for help. In such a situation, the government needs to act swiftly so that such students get smartphones to attend online classes amid the pandemic.
On the one hand the number of Covid cases is rising in the state, but on the other the Centre has decided to lift restrictions on social gatherings in Unlock 4. Do you think the decision of the Union Government is well advised?
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