Thiruvanantapuram, July 09, 2020: Kerala has taken a significant step towards bridging the digital divide in education by ensuring that 2.42 lakh students marked out by the government for lacking access to online classes now have the means, the state’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan project director Dr A P Kuttikrishnan told The Indian Express.
Since May 15, the state government has rallied support from politicians and civil society to provide television sets to anganwadis, libraries, schools and study centres where left-out students can watch their lessons, aired on the state educational channel, together. In other words, access was ensured by providing devices at common areas where a group of students can study together.
A total of 20,000 television sets have been provided to date. Of these, about 2,000 were given by the government and its departments. The remaining were either donated by civil society organisations, private individuals and politicians or purchased from money raised by them.
“A majority of the television sets were purchased using the money donated by teachers organisations, CSR initiatives of industries and private individuals. About Rs 1.3 crore was collected like this,” Kuttikrishnan said.
The state was among the first in the country to launch online classes for the 45 lakh students enrolled in Classes 10 to 12 across all government schools. The classes are being telecast since June 1 on the educational channel IT@School Victers channel.
While students in primary classes watch online lessons for an hour every day, middle school students spend one-and-a-half hours and senior students about two hours. The lessons are also available on Youtube so that students who missed out can watch them later. “After the online lessons are over, our teachers then reach out to students to take their questions and clear their doubts,” Kuttikrishnan said.
For students in tribal and shadow areas, Kuttikrishnan said, teachers have been tasked to reach out to them at least once a week so that they can watch the classes on the teacher’s device and make up for lost instructional time.
The COVID-induced classroom shutdown since March 19 has forced almost all states to move their classes online. With the reopening of educational institutions uncertain, the Union government is now making an effort to assess how many students do not have access to computers or computer-like devices and the Internet to attend online classes.