The government’s decision to start community classes for the students in far off areas has been put on hold due to the restrictions imposed by the authorities in view of the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown imposed in all the districts across J&K.
The School Education Department had decided to prioritise setting up of the community schools for the children up to class 12th who do not have access to internet and smart phones and remain unavailable for online classes.
The government has closed all the educational institutions in J&K in view of the surge in the COVID-19 cases and directed the schools, colleges, and universities to switch to the online mode of education.
Besides online classes, the School Education Department had decided to start community classes for the needy students.
However, the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions imposed in J&K has halted the initiative of establishing community schools for the students.
The respective District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMA) have not allowed the district education authorities to start the open air classes in view of the rising COVID-19 cases across J&K.
“The Education department in Baramulla has identified around 466 teaching community points but we were not given permission by the district administration to start the classes,” a teacher said.
The teaching community points were established in areas where students do not have access to internet facilities and are not able to avail the benefits of an online education system.
“We are waiting for the permission of district administration to start our classes. Till that time, teachers continue to deliver their online classes through various digital platforms,” the teacher said.
Baramulla is not the only district where the initiative of setting up community schools has hit the roadblock but the situation is no different in other districts too.
The teachers in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district had also started community classes for the students who were unavailable for the online classes but the classes were stopped by the administration.
“The community classes were started at various locations of the district but the concerned Tehsildars on the direction of administration disallowed continuing the open air classes because of the ongoing restrictions,” a teacher from Anantnag district said.
The teacher said they were not allowed to start community schools keeping in view the safety of the students.
“It was observed that even community classes are held in open air but the students do not maintain proper social distance during classes. So teachers also put the community classes on hold till permission is granted by the district administration,” he said.
The idea of establishing community schools was floated last year by some teachers of Baramulla district and was later replicated in other districts as well. The School Education Department also received appreciation from the NITI Ayog for organising the community classes in far off areas for the school children who do not have access to the internet facilities.
While the community classes have been disallowed amid COVID-19 scare and considering the safety of the students, hundreds of the students in far off areas in Baramulla, Anantnag and other districts remain detached from their studies given non-availability of smart phones and internet facilities to these children.
Keeping in view the restrictions on the community classes, all eyes are on the government to start open air classes to be telecast at DD Kashmir channel and audio classes to be broadcast on radio. Both the initiatives were run throughout the academic session for the students who do not have access to internet.
Administrative Secretary School Education Department (SED) Bishwajit Kumar Singh told Greater Kashmir that the department was working to telecast the video lectures on TV.
“The rate of COVID-19 cases is very high and we cannot ask the students to attend community classes. But the issue about video classes on TV is being worked out,” he said.