More than two months after it was suspended, the Karnataka government is set to restart the Vidyagama scheme for government school students asking teachers to take classes in the school premises. The classes will be held in a new format with added safety measures which will see students divided into smaller groups for the classes.
This means that classes will resume for government school students, who unlike their counterparts in private schools, have not had online classes this year. S Suresh Kumar, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, confirmed that students, with approval from parents, can come to the school premises to attend Vidyagama classes in small groups of 15-20 students. They will have to maintain distance and wear masks.
The classes will be held in turns with three classes of 45 minutes each in the morning and afternoon. They will begin imminently once the plans are in place, Suresh Kumar said. The exact date for the commencement of classes is yet to be announced.
Students studying in class 10 will have classes in the first shift everyday. The guidelines released by the Karnataka government also state that classes for students studying in classes 8 and 9 would be conducted on alternate days from 2 pm to 4 :30 pm. For classes 1 to 5, classes will be on alternate days.
The state government stopped the Vidyagama scheme, a continuous learning programme which involved teachers taking classes in community spaces, in October after reports of students and teachers contracting COVID-19.
However, the absence of classes adversely affected students who do not have access to internet or smartphones and laptops since teachers were keen to continue the education of students by sending instructions over WhatsApp.
In addition, the Vidyagama scheme was criticised after reports emerged that menstruating girls and Dalits were excluded from the scheme in few places where the classes were being held in temples. This led to a demand from activists in Karnataka to restart the Vidyagama scheme in the school premises itself. Government school students have had classes telecast on DD Chandana for the past month and these classes will continue, Suresh Kumar said.