Education Minister Lahkmen Rymbui on Friday said the plan of the government is to re-open educational institutions in the state.
“The plan is when to open the schools as we know there is digital divide (due to online classes),” Rymbui told the Assembly.
According to him, the department is working out on the calendar and also how to take care of the health aspects of the students if at all schools are to be re-opened.
He was replying to the concern expressed by Congress legislators Ampareen Lyngdoh and Zenith Sangma on the plight of many students who have no access to education in light of the digital divide.
Stating that online classes cannot be substitute to classroom teaching, Rymbui said, “Online classes is only to supplement the knowledge of the students.”
He however admitted that it is a fact that there is connectivity problem and that many parents cannot afford to provide smartphones to their children.
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“We also know that there are teachers who are not equipped to teach through online classes,” he said while informing that the DERT has designed a course to train teachers on this regard.
The minister also assured that the government is committed to come up with the best solutions to over the present problem.
“The pandemic has disrupted the life of everybody and we don’t know when it will end. So the government is weighing all pros and cons and problems faced by students, parents and also the school managing committees. We will come up with the best solutions (to overcome the problem) in one-two days,” he said.
Zenith also wanted to know if the government has any plan to provide tablets to all students.
The minister however said it is difficult for the government to provide such support to the students.
“The state is having over 9.21 lakh students and if one tablet cost Rs 2,000 then the government will need around Rs 200 crore for the purpose. Therefore, I dont think it is proper but we will explore…as digital world is a reality…,” he said.
On the suggestion to provide tablets at least to classes IX, X & XII, the minister reiterated the stand of the government and said online classes is not mandatory. He said the population of secondary school students is 1.11 lakh while 58,000 higher secondary school students.
Congress legislator from Umroi George B Lyngdoh also requested the government to take up the matter related to similar agony faced by college and university students.
To this, the minister said the government is in touch with the NEHU authority and had held meeting twice following the notice issued by the UGC to have online classes.