No smartphones, depleted internet data becomes a barrier for online study

Although Education Secretary Krishna Kumar recently instructed teachers to teach and assign homework to students through an online medium, its implementation remains a distant dream as many students face difficulties accessing to online content.

While some students don’t own smartphones, others face internet-related issues amid the lockdown imposed following the coronavirus outbreak.

No smartphones and exhausted internet data are therefore the two major obstacles to online education at the present time, where students are confined to their homes as a precaution against Covid-19.

As the pending exams from the Punjab School Education Board have been postponed, government teachers are now using various digital platforms such as Whatsapp, Youtube and Paging to give students review homework.

Punjab’s Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla on Monday announced a further postponement of exams for grades 8, 10 and 12. There are around 1,500 public schools, including primary, middle and secondary schools, in the district with majority pupils belonging to the economically weaker sections (EWS). This therefore raises doubts as to how online education can be applicable here where students do not own smartphones or face internet issues.

Explaining how teachers are tackling the challenge and even covering children who don’t have smartphones, district science mentor Jasvir Singh said out of 100 students, around 40 students do not have access to online materials. . To teach these children, teachers use paging, which means they make phone calls to individual students, Singh said.

“While there are a few who own simple phones, there are plenty more who cannot access online content because their internet data is depleted. For these students, the teachers made one-to-one calls and explained the lessons to them. They also remove their doubts about the appeals, ”Singh added.

He added that although the process is difficult, they are focused on their goal of covering all the students.

Ravinder Kaur, an English teacher at Nupur Bet Public Secondary School, said she has formed broadcast groups on Whatsapp to provide content for students.

“While the department was giving instructions regarding online teaching only last week, I had long been sending out important worksheets, bullet points and links to help students do well on board exams,” a- she declared.

Regarding teaching children without a smartphone, Kaur said, “There are two students in my class who do not have access to a smartphone. I call them to discuss topics and answer their questions during the call itself.

Arshpreet Kaur, a class 10 student at Sidhwan Bet Secondary School for Girls, said that out of a total of 32 students in her class, around 8 students did not have smartphones.

“As we receive homework on Whatsapp and answer our questions, students without access to smartphones have been urged to seek help from their classmate and, if in doubt, call the teacher.” , she said.

District English and Social Sciences Mentor Subodh Verma said students in the new session will soon be taught via Whatsapp.

“The education department is currently developing the curriculum for the new session, which will be taught through Whatsapp groups. To teach a subject, we divide different chapters into portable document format (PDF) and send them to the students. We are working hard to make this lockdown period productive for students, ”he said.

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