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Teachers doubt feasibility of online classes

Panaji: As the education department is proceeding with its online training programme for 10,500 primary, secondary and higher secondary school teachers on ‘effective planning for achievement of learning outcome’, many of the teachers themselves have expressed doubts over the feasibility of conducting online classes, especially with many of the students residing in interior village areas, where poor connectivity can create serious problems for virtual classes.

Till now, the directorate of education, State Council of Educational Research and Training  and Goa Samagra Shiksha, in association with Adhyayan Foundation, Tata Trusts and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad, have trained 5,000 teachers under the first phase, while training of 3,500 teachers is on in the second phase.

The training of teachers in the third and final phase will commence soon. 

Highly-placed government sources told  ‘The Navhind Times’ that the schools normally reopen during the first week of June, every academic year, however this time, it would be difficult to maintain the particular deadline.

“Ideally the schools would have reopened in two weeks’ time,” the sources said, adding that this now looks highly unlikely as the COVID-19 cases in the state are on the rise due to the relaxation of pandemic-related guidelines.

“Although no one can confidently say when the schools in the state would reopen this academic year, their reopening date could be postponed till July,” they noted.

This very reason has made the education department  go for the alternative of holding virtual classes for the school students, right from the primary level to the

secondary level.   

For the academic year 2019-20, close to 2.60 lakh students studying from Class I to Class XII under the directorate of education were admitted in 1,735 schools.

It is mandatory for schools to complete 220 instructional days during an academic year, and any delay in their reopening would mean that the instructional days will have to be made up elsewhere during the year. Furthermore, the academic year cannot go beyond April 30 either.

A senior official of the education department informed that the online training programme for the teachers has been undertaken not only due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but for other reasons too.

“In the future, suppose a student falls ill and has to stay at home then his teacher can teach him online,” he added.

The DoE official also informed that the online syllabus content for the schools has been provided by the National Council of Educational Research and Training.

“The syllabus content for higher classes is ready, while that for the primary classes, especially Marathi medium primary classes, is being generated,” he added. 

Many teachers, on the other hand, pointed out at the futility of conducting online classes for students, if the reopening of schools is delayed by to the COVID crisis.

A mathematics teacher pointed out that she needs to be physically present in the classroom to ensure that every student understands her

subject. “Sometimes even when I am present in the classroom and teach mathematics, some students find it difficult to grasp what is being taught,” she maintained, adding that such students requires personal attention.

The teacher further asked what would happen to such weak students if they, along with other 35-40 students are taught online.

“And then the problems of poor network and uneven picture and sound quality also needs to be considered,” she noted.   

The objectives of this online programme are to enable school leaders and teachers to engage with virtual platforms and pedagogical processes they enable, for learners to learn synchronously and asynchronously, from the material available online; to enable teachers to plan their academic year, taking into account the number of teaching days, summative assessments, events and activities; to enable teachers to plan the units and lessons based on the choice of open education resources available and the mode of delivery of information; and to enable school leaders and teachers to track the learning of the students to ensure that learning outcomes are improving.

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