In Mulugu district for example, which is one of the tribal dominated areas of the state, over 800 students are listed as ‘no access’ students.
A mounting challenge has been posed to the teachers in Telangana to impart education to all the school children without compromising the health safety amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Particularly, the Adivasi-dominated regions, which are deprived of the luxury of electronic devices and internet, are facing the brunt of digital learning amid inadequate teaching staff, requiring district officials to adopt different strategies without violating the health protocols.
The academic year 2020-21 for schools in Telangana via online classes began on Tuesday, and attending these classes mandatorily requires gadgets like laptops, phones or a television set.
Besides Doordarshan Yadagiri (state-owned channel), Telangana’s Department of Information Technology, Electronics and Communications has developed its own indigenous T-SAT satellite network which will be available in all the cable TV networks in the state through which lessons would be taught. T-SAT can be accessed on YouTube as well.
The classes have to be taught primarily through the internet or through TV sets. As part of this e-learning model, students are classified into ‘high access’ (those with smartphones, computers), ‘low access’ (those with TV) and ‘no access’ (those without any resources).
Acknowledging the ground realities of graded inequality, the government has involved community leaders to ensure that all the students attend the classes. The village sarpanches have been asked to arrange a TV and make alternate arrangements for the students.
While the government says that implementation of the digital classes has been largely a success with around 14,03,714 students out of the 16,43,309 students attending classes on day 1 without any major hiccups, the rural districts with significant tribal populations are finding it difficult to provide education.
In Mulugu district, which is one of the tribal dominated areas of the state, over 800 students are listed as ‘no access’ students. To teach these students, teachers are required to visit their habitations and hold classes.
Speaking to TNM, Mulugu in-charge District Education Officer (DEO) Vasanthi said, “In Mulugu, out of the 12,062 students, only 10,500-odd have access to TV and laptops, the other 802 students have no resources. For them, we are ‘pairing’ them with other students. But some students don’t even have such an opportunity, so we are asking the teachers to visit their habitations.”
Pairing means that students would be taught together at a common facility. As per the norms, the strength of the students should not exceed four.
She added, “In some places, the network is also weak, so the teachers are downloading the learning videos before reaching the habitations or they themselves would teach them.”
Explaining about the shortage of teachers, the DEO says, “In around 20 schools, there were no teachers. Then we had to make arrangements for this. It is challenging but we are making our best with the available resources.”
As per the data, in Mulugu, 3347 students have TV with T-SAT access, 6602 with cable TV connection, 1003 have phone with internet connection, and 1069 have phone without internet connection, while only 41 students have computers with internet access.
Mulugu also has power disruptions, according to officials.
Sharing similar problems, Bhadradri Kothagudem DEO, Somasekhara Sharma said, “Originally, we had 9000 students without any resources but we ‘mapped’ (assigned youth leaders, village sarpanch to arrange facilities) them. Among the 9000, 490 students were found to have no resources at all. For these students, the teachers are providing worksheets. The teachers will collect these sheets the next day for correction and evaluate their performance,” the DEO explained.
According to the DEO, the tribal agency areas of Karakagudem, Charla, Dummugudem and Gundala have no network making their task very challenging. “We are trying to overcome these challenges by trying to arrange TVs at the gram panchayat offices,” Sharma said. Kothagudem has over 69,000 students.
The district officials have decided to hold a meeting next week to review the implementation.
However, unlike Mulugu, Kothagudem has no power disruptions. “Even in the interior parts of agency areas, there is no power disruption during the classes,” the DEO shared.
To monitor the smooth functioning of the classes, all the teachers including the DEO are visiting the villages and habitations. The DEO in his inspection observed that children are paying more attention to classes on TV than on phones.
Special initiative in Adilabad
Starkly different to the other tribal dominated districts, in Adilabad, learning about the shortage of teachers, officials have engaged B.Ed and D.Ed (Bachelors of Education and Diploma in Education) students to help them make education accessible.
According to officials, around 5018 students in the district have no access, so they ‘paired’ most students after convincing their parents. However, as many students were still left without any opportunity, the officials have hired nearly 1000 B.Ed and D.Ed trainees to reach the students without any access and livestream the classes on their mobiles. The B.Ed and D.Ed students are presently on leave. “This special initiative earned a lot of appreciation from the Director and Commissioner of School Education Devasena,” said Adilabad DEO Ravinder Reddy.
These 5000-odd students would also be under the monitoring of teachers. “The teachers have adopted them. By giving them worksheets, they will constantly evaluate them. Unlike other districts, Adilabad provided textbooks to the students in advance a month earlier,” Ravinder Reddy said proudly.
The authorities are simultaneously trying to acquire laptops and engage degree-qualified volunteers from NGOs by paying them an honorarium. “In another 10 days, we will engage them too,” Ravinder Reddy said.
Courtesy The News Minute