The lockdown has brought forth unprecedented challenges to be tackled. Uncertainty still lingers in a lot of realms with the ever-increasing infection rates, despite the Unlock 1.0 in action.
One such domain is that of education, where schools and colleges are unsure of when they can reopen and have been trying to incorporate technology in order to be able to continue teaching their students. Online classes have become the need of the hour and widespread access to fast-speed internet has become a lifeline of sorts in ensuring that. But, we should not forget that there is one such place still deprived of this fundamental need- Jammu and Kashmir.
With only 2G connectivity, the transition to this new mode of teaching has not been easy. Two teachers form Jammu tell us about how they are still managing to teach their students against all odds.
“I make audio lectures for my students,” say Dr. Varsha Gupta, Professor of History, teaching M.A. students at Jammu university, “I have made a WhatsApp group for my students. All my students are on the group. I record audio lectures and I type out any difficult words and terms. Along with that, I use CamScanner to make pdfs of the reading material and put it in the group.” She also said that she calls her students to ask if they have any doubts and problems regarding the subject matter.
Ms. Ritu Bharti Gupta teaches social science to students of 10th standard at Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Bishnah, which is around 20 kms from the main city. “At this point of time, 34 students of 10th standard are on our WhatsApp group, but not everybody has android”, she says. “We send audios or videos and pictures of written material in the group”. She further explains “We have divided the four sub-categories of the subject amongst us three teachers. We have made a time-table and we send in our lectures according to our turn.” On being asked if the videos run smoothly with 2G connectivity, she says “They take time to load, but we manage somehow.” The total enrolment for 10th standard at the school is 54 students which means that 37% students of the class don’t have access to this online means of education, and this is just one standard.
The efforts of these teachers and many others like them are applaudable. However, in times of a pandemic, access to fast-speed internet should not be a privilege, but a basic human right. What’s worse is that we have the capacity to do so, but after Supreme Court rejected the plea to restore 4G in the state, there doesn’t seem to be a will.