JU says it will 'do something' to reach out to students with no smartphone

JU says it will 'do something' to reach out to students with no smartphone Photo Courtesy : Jadavpur University
Press Trust of India | Aug 7, 2020 - 9:16 a.m. IST
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KOLKATA: Jadavpur University will decide on how to send study materials and class notes to students in the coming semester during this pandemic situation, keeping in mind that many of them do not have smartphones, a senior official said on Thursday.

The university will certainly do something to bridge the digital divide, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Prof Chiranjib Bhattacharya said.

Jadavpur University Teachers' Association recently urged the institute authorities to reach out to students who cannot afford smartphones and hence will be deprived of study materials if online classes are taken in the coming semester, JUTA General Secretary Partha Pratim Roy said.

JUTA also submitted a proposal of holding classes through phone calls where a student will interact with the teacher over the phone at a particular time, Roy said, adding that modalities to implement this can be chalked out in consultation with every stakeholder. We will certainly arrive at a decision in the best interest of students but within our financial ability," Bhattacharya told PTI.

Asked about the possibility of the university arranging smartphones for students not having one due to financial reasons, Bhattacharya said, "There are issues like arranging funds for this. We also need to know the number of such students."

The pro-VC said that the varsity had not done any survey concerning the number of students not having smartphones, while student unions of arts, science and engineering faculties have carried out a fact check on their own.

"We have asked the student unions to share with us the details. We will hold a meeting by next week to discuss these issues and how to make class lectures and other academic activities accessible to the students," he said.

Another varsity teacher said that as per the survey done by students unions, around three per cent of the students in engineering and science faculties do not possess any smartphone. The figure is higher in the arts stream in which many students hail from remote areas of the state, the teacher said.

Bhattacharya said that the university is also positive about JUTAs proposal for uploading audio or video of teachers' lectures in the JU portal which can be downloaded by students of the department concerned. However, this too will not help students with no internet connection, he said.

Roy said that they had also suggested that the university could make an arrangement with a company so that students can get quality handsets. The varsity could fund the project partly or fully with the help of any grant. On this, the pro-VC said that there are lots of financial issues involved and "We can't take a decision on this in a hurry."

Vice-Chancellor Prof Suranjan Das had earlier pointed out that online classes do not reach a sizable section of students as they do not have internet connections.

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