Why states are drafting policies to regulate online schooling

Why states are drafting policies to regulate online schooling Picture used for representational purpose only (Source: Shutterstock)
Team Careers360 | Jun 17, 2020 - 11:40 a.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: With the new academic year beginning online, the Maharashtra Government has slashed the screen time for all students. The Karnataka Government has banned virtual classes for pre-primary and primary students altogether. The online learning initiative of the Kerala Government has moved into the second phase.

The Centre is now framing guidelines of its own and reportedly considering reduced screen time and prioritising mental health for the students while attending the virtual classes.

As the country grapples with an unprecedented global pandemic, the education system has shifted from classroom teaching to online learning as schools continue to be closed for over three months.

Schools encouraged to embrace online learning are now facing the challenges that shift comes with. The expansive digital divide, health difficulties due to long exposure and cybersecurity risks are becoming the barriers in online learning.

The National Council for Education and Research Training (NCERT) guidelines also instruct schools to ensure that students do not suffer for long hours in front of digital screens.

A National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, or NIMHANS study had pointed out that virtual classes were not ideal for students below the age of six years, The Indian Express reported.

So far only three states have managed to draw clear guidelines pertaining to virtual classes.

Three states and online learning

In Maharashtra, the maximum screen time has been fixed for students according to their age.For Classes 3-5, screen-time of one hour has been allowed; for Classes 5-8, two hours; and for Classes 9-12 for three hours have been allocated.

The education department of Karnataka has formed a committee to recommend guidelines to regulate the online education for Class 6 to 10 students, Times of Indiar reported. The 11-member committee has been asked to frame guidelines for the technology to be used, alternative teaching methods, ways to minimise the digital divide for online learning.

The Kerala initiative -First Bell has been imparting lessons via VICTERS channels online and on television sets. A fixed time table has been set to ensure regularity.

After a Class 9 student took her own life due to the inability to access online classes, the state government is also planning to set up viewing centres and distribute laptops to small groups with help from sponsors, NDTV reported.

At the community level, alumni associations, local businessmen, non-profit organisation have come together to provide TV sets and smartphones to the students in need.

Other states

While the ministry of Human Resource Development is still deliberating upon the guidelines, many schools in states like West Bengal, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have started the academic year virtually.

Private schools in West Bengal, according to the TOI reports, have modified their approach with the help of feedback from the parents, which focuses on holding the attention of children.

Discouraging long lectures, the teachers are adopting storytelling and other innovative techniques to engage younger students. However, there are no regulations on the duration of classes.

Online classes in the states like Telangana and Tamil Nadu have already attracted wide criticism from students and parents alike.

Pointing out the shortcomings of virtual classes, many students in Tamil Nadu expressed their discontent on social media. They argued that the classes ran for long hours causing mental stress and headaches.

Several others raised concern over the lack of equipment to access the online classes. Inability to afford or arrange for computers, laptops and smartphones in the ongoing lockdown has deprived students of disadvantaged backgrounds in the state.

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