Sloka School, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad

Karnataka: Only 50% schools commence offline classes

August 25, 2021
-Reshma Ravishanker

Even as Karnataka has reopened schools for classes IX-XII in districts with less than 2 % positivity rate of Covid-19, half the schools in the state continue to offer only the online option to students.

Data released by the department of primary and secondary education on August 24 indicates that even as in-person classes commenced on August 23 in batches, 50.21 % schools continue to give only the online option to students. Out of the 14,956 schools, 7447 schools have started entering attendance data on the education department’s portal. 

The number of schools offering just virtual teaching-learning methods is highest in the North Karnataka region, with around 81 % in Vijayapura and 82 % in Gadag, 72.49 % in Koppal and 93.37 % in Davanagere districts.

In Bengaluru, a large majority of schools where students and teachers have made a seamless shift to online teaching with no challenges of access to technology, only online classes are offered.

Shashi Kumar, general secretary, Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka said, “Some private schools are waiting to see parents’ response to reopening of schools. The elite private schools have grown comfortable with online teaching-learning. The schools, students and parents have access to technology and have an uninterrupted internet connection. But the budget schools cannot take that liberty as a lot of students are dependent on in-person classes.”

A lack of consent from parents is also a deterrent. Chidananda PE, member, Voice of Parents said, “To send children to in-person classes, parents must give a written consent. Most parents are unwilling to do that. Hence, offline classes have commenced in most schools. It is not sufficient if the education minister visits a private school on the start day. Surprise inspections must be carried out by visiting private schools at frequent intervals to see if all Covid-19 safety protocols are followed. This will come as an assurance to parents to send children back to schools,” he said.

Niranjanaradhya VP, Fellow and Programme Head – Universalisation of Education at National Law School of India University said, “Unfortunately state has given the option for those who want to attend online. All schools need to open right now. If children are not attending them, then an online option can be given. When the government is issuing an order and releasing SOP, if schools are still not following it, that amounts to violation of government order. If children are willing to attend, you are denying them an opportunity.”  

Rishikesh B S, associate professor, Azim Premji University said, “It is clear to all us educationists that online education is sub-optimal.  We believe that it is not a viable option even at the university level. At any given opportunity we should move to in-person classes. The 50 % number is fine. But at this point in time, there should be no stepping back. Over the next two months, these numbers are bound to improve.” 

Also read: Karnataka: Schools, PU colleges reopen, roses & red carpets welcome students

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