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Kolkata schools record low attendance in online classes

June 21, 2022
Mita Mukherjee

Schools in Kolkata have noticed a “drastic” fall in students’ attendance after they shifted to online classes following a state government order, a trend that is completely different from what the schools had seen when they had resumed in-person classes after the long closure due to Covid-19.

The schools said they had recorded almost 100 per cent attendance when they had reopened for offline classes after nearly 22 months in February. The schools were closed down again for the summer holidays in May. The attendance was almost close to 100 percent even when the schools reopened after the summer vacation this month, many schools said.

The Bengal government had recently directed schools in the state to extend the summer vacation by 11 days citing “heatwave like conditions”.

Teachers said after going back to online teaching this time the numbers of absentees are seen to be highest among students studying in Class VIII to XII. The reluctance to join the online classes is no less among students in the junior classes as well, they said.

Parents of students in the lower classes are complaining that their wards would wake up late in the morning and refuse to get ready to sit in front of the computer.

“My daughter was very excited to go to school when the offline classes started in February. She would keep her school bag ready the night  before (which she would never do before the pandemic) and make sure that all that she would need for going to school are in place so that she is not late and misses the school bus. But that excitement is missing. Mornings are hectic for me, still I have to spend a lot of time convincing my daughter to get ready for the online classes,” said Soma Bhowmick, the mother of a Class V student of an CISCE school in south Calcutta.

The numbers of absentees in the ongoing online classes vary between 25 to 40 per cent, according to Terence John, principal Julien Day School, Kalyani.

“Parents of students in the junior classes can force their wards to join the online teaching sessions even if they are unwilling to do so. But senior class students, particularly those in Classes XI and XII do not join the classes even if their parents ask them to do so,” John told EducationWorld.

At Rammohan Mission High School too the same trend is evident and very low attendance is being recorded since the institution shifted to online classes.

“The students are probably missing the environment of the normal school again and that is why they are not keen to participate in the online classes. Students were enjoying the physical interaction with teachers and friends when we got back to the physical classes. Students, mainly the senior students, are fully aware how they will suffer if they don’t attend the classes regularly. Still they are not interested in online teaching. This is a big problem and we are trying our best to attract the students to the classes,” Biswas told EducationWorld.

Arjun Ghosh of Rishi Aurobindo Memorial Academy, Dum Dum, said the attendance has “drastically” declined in his institution too.

“We are closely monitoring the attendance of every class every day. Students are bored with the monotonous setting of online teaching where they are not able to participate in any kind of physical interaction and only the teachers keep speaking,” said Ghosh.

Students’ attendance was initially low when they had shifted to online teaching after the Covid-19 outbreak. But schools gradually started recording higher attendance later on. But many schools said the attendance had dropped when the online teaching went on for too long.

According to psychologists engaged in offering psychological counseling to school students had initially shown keenness to participate in the online classes as there was no other option.

“The thrill that was evident initially has now gone. It is true that students don’t find the online classes interesting. But now they know they can score good marks even if they don’t attend the classes properly and even if they study less and so they are not attending the classes now,” said Mahua Ghosh, consultant psychologist.

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