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MHRD online class directive

MHRD education directives: Centre vs States

June 18, 2020

While state governments have come up with different directions, either in support or against the online classes for pre-primary, primary classes, the Union HRD Ministry seems to be in favour of online classes for primary classes too. The ministry hasn’t issued any specific directions regarding the online classes for primary classes but has several learning resources for them on their portal too.

In fact, recently, the NCERT and Rotary India digitally signed MoU for e-learning content telecast for class 1 to 12 over all NCERT TV channels in the presence of Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ in New Delhi. Students can access the material being telecast on TV channels free-of-charge. There will be curriculum modules telecast for classes 1-12, through 12 national television channels of NCERT, to be available from July 2020. The content will be vetted by NCERT as per their curriculum. The e-learning modules would also be available through GOI’s national mobile app, DIKSHA, at the same time.

During the event held on June 9, Pokhriyal said he hopes that e-learning reaches all children across the country. The minister was happy to also note that under VidyaDaan 2.0, Rotary International will provide e-content in Hindi to NCERT for classes 1 to 12 for all subjects. The ministry has also been focussing on creating e-learning material for all. They are now working on the SOPs for online classes to ensure students do not spend hours before the screens and learn at their own pace.

Pokhriyal had earlier urged private schools to reconsider annual hike in fees and collecting fee on a quarterly basis during the lockdown. Regarding the class 10 and 12 exams, the Supreme Court has given a deadline to CBSE until June 23 to come up with its final decision. However, the ICSE and ISC exams will be conducted in July as per the revised schedule.

Here’s what each state is following:

Maharashtra

The Maharashtra government declared reopening of all state board schools in July using online classes and digital platforms where physical classes cannot be held. The government has also enforced a complete ban on online classes up to class 2 but they can continue learning through educational content on television and radio instead. The government has also issued a notification providing a detailed standard operating procedure (SOP), which outlines a schedule for both online and offline classes permitting one hour online classes for class 3-5, two hours for class 6-8 students and a maximum of three hours of screen time for class 9-12.

The notification also indicates the government’s plan to reintroduce physical classes in two shifts a day and with staggered attendance to avoid crowds in school premises. The directive from the government also states that the schools cannot collect fees from parents until the lockdown is lifted. Even though two weeks ago, CM Uddhav Thackeray announced cancellation of final year exams across all streams, no government notification has been issued to the effect yet leading to lot of confusion among students, teachers and parents. However, the ICSE class 10 exams will be held in July in the state.

Karnataka

Primary and Secondary Education Minister of Karnataka, S Suresh Kumar confirmed schools in the state will not be reopening on July 1, 2020 – the dates of reopening the schools across the state will be released soon. Parents can give their opinions on the issue of reopening schools in Karnataka and submit their opinions by June 20. The schools can also collect fees from the parents on a monthly basis, but only those who can afford to pay. The schools are also required to pay at least 50 per cent salary to teachers and other staff.

Kumar also announced a ban on online classes up to class 5 and prohibited schools from collecting fees from parents for online education. Guidelines regarding how to organise online classes for students of classes 6 to 10 are yet to be issued. A committee including academicians Prof M K Sridharand, Dr Gururaj Karjagi, Dr V P Niranjanaradhya, representatives of parents and school managements across boards, top education department officials and experts from National Insitute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) was directed to submit a report, based on which guidelines will be issued.

The pending SSLC exams and 2nd PUC English exam will be conducted as per the schedule, said Kumar. Hence, SSLC exams will be conducted from June 25 and 2nd PUC will be conducted from June 18. The SC also dismissed the plea challenging HC order which had refused to intervene in the state government’s decision on the SSLC board exams.

West Bengal

Schools in the state will look for the recommendation of the state government. State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee earlier said that schools and colleges of West Bengal will resume classroom teaching after June 30. Until then, online classes will be held. Following summer break, schools in the state have resumed their online learning system. The government has appealed to the schools not to hike fees. Regarding the exams, Chatterjee said that vice-chancellors of state universities have submitted a resolution on the modalities of holding the final semester exams. The class 10 exam results will be declared once the situation becomes favourable while the class 12 examination will commence on June 29.

Telangana

The Telangana State School Education (TSSE) and the Telangana State Board of Intermediate Education (TSBIE) are unlikely to take any decision on the reopening of the junior colleges and schools any time now. The chances of reopening of the schools before August or early September are remote. The schools have been directed to collect fees on a monthly basis and not to hike the fee for the academic year 2020-21. The government stated that failure to adhere to these directions will lead to cancellation of school’s registration.

Beside, the government has cancelled Class 10 board exams and promoted students on the basis of their internal assessment scores. The class 12 results have been announced recently by the state board. The government is yet to review the matter regarding holding university exams. Telangana education department has started online classes on April 22, 2020. Virtual classes are being offered through TSAT Vidya channel and TSAT e-learning app for students of classes 6 to 10. However virtual classes for primary students (up to class 5) have not been authorised by the government. Instead they can utilise e-textbooks which have been made available for class 1 to class 10 students through State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT).

Bihar

The Bihar Education Department directed all district education officers to submit reports by June 6 regarding reopening of schools in July after consulting with students, parents, teachers and management of schools. Now, the state government is awaiting the guidelines by the Centre regarding reopening of schools. The Bihar commission for protection of child rights has also issued a detailed advisory and has called for sanitisation of campuses and adequate arrangement of water for drinking and frequent hand wash at the premises. The Patna district magistrate Kumar Ravi had issued an order instructing all private schools not to pressurise parents to pay three months’ fee during lockdown. However, the schools facilitating online classes may request for one-month tuition fee. The state declared the result of its class 12 board exams in March and class 10 in May as the evaluation got delayed this time. The pending exams of three universities – Veer Kunwar Singh University, Ara, Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University and Munger University, will be conducted in July.

Haryana

Haryana schools to reopen in July in phased manner, starting with classes 10 to 12, followed by classes 6 to 9, and 1 to 5. For social distancing, schools will function at 50 percent strength. In a class of 30 students, 15 will come in the morning and 15 in the evening or alternate days, said Haryana Education Minister Kanwar Pal. The state has directed schools not to hike fees and collect in monthly installments. The state will be conducting its final semester exams for higher and technical education courses from July 1 to 31. The Board of School Education, Haryana (BSEH) will conduct the pending class 10 and 12 exams between July 1 and 15. The schools have been asked to send communications to the board about the number of candidates to appear in the pending class 10 science exam by this month. The board is yet to clarify when the results of the exams would be declared.

Kerala

Kerala kickstarted its new academic year for school students on June 1, 2020 with online classes launched by the name ‘First Bell’. The Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) has released the timetable for the classes. It will be carried out through KITE Victors Channel for free and will be also available on YouTube. The government has directed all schools not to hike fees this academic year. Also, 13 lakh school students completed their final exams 14 days ago. The government declared not a single student has been affected by Covid yet. “It was meticulously planned: schools sanitised. Masks distributed to all. Thermal readings mandatory. Physical distancing ensured,” tweeted state finance minister Dr Thomas Isaac.

Tamil Nadu

The government is yet to decide on the date of reopening schools. An expert group headed by Commissioner for School Education Sigy Thomas Vaidyan, Tamilnadu Nursery, Primary, Matriculation and CBSE Schools Association has requested that schools be reopened from July 1 by limiting the number of school students to 15 per class to maintain social distancing norms. The government plans to conduct classes for LKG to Class V and Classes VI to XII on alternate days. The schools have also been appealed not to collect any fees during the lockdown period. The government also cancelled class 10 and 11 exams but the pending class 12 exams will be conducted and the dates for the same will be announced soon.

The Tamil Nadu High and Higher Secondary School Graduate Teacher Association said teachers are not in favour of online teaching as only 35-40 per cent of students are available for the classes due to internet connectivity issues. There have also been suggestions to shorten the length of the syllabus by 25 per cent this year as much time has been lost. Further, there have been suggestions to limit the RTE seats and use the money to improve the infrastructure at schools and classes this year.

North East, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi governments are yet to decide on schools reopening. After the centre’s decision to reopen schools after 15 Aug, most of the states are going to form a committee and take suggestions from parents regarding the same.

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