With the lockdown extended twice, it is still unclear when educational institutions will open for the next academic year. Teachers say that there are rumours that schools won’t be able to open until August, two months after the normal school calendar year.
In this scenario, the institutions are scrambling to find ways to continue conducing classes for their students. For many in Karnataka, this means resorting to online classrooms, even for kindergarten level students.
This has not sat well with the state government.
At a press briefing, Karnataka Education Minster S Suresh Kumar said that he has received several complaints about schools conducting online classes for kindergarten level students.
“I have spoken to the Education Commissioner on the matter, and he agrees that it is not right. Children at LKG age don’t have a syllabus that can be taught online. Besides, parents should not be forced to purchase laptops for their wards,” he said.
The Minister also tweeted, “Why should schools conduct online classes for LKG and UKG students? This is just greed. The Education department will take action against such schools.”
LKG ಮತ್ತು UKG ಯ ಆ ಕಂದಗಳಿಗೂ On-line ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ಕೊಡುವ ಮನಸ್ಥಿತಿಗೆ ಏನೆನ್ನಬೇಕು?— S.Suresh Kumar, Minister - Govt of Karnataka (@nimmasuresh) May 16, 2020
ಅವರಿಗೆಲ್ಲಾ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ಇಲಾಖೆಯ ಕ್ರಮ ಕಾದಿದೆ.
Teachers who are conducting such online classes say it is nothing but a way for the school to make money.
“The admission process for the next year usually takes place in April when the results are given out. But it didn’t happen this year. So, to force parents to pay the fees, schools are sending notices on the school app saying that unless they pay the admission fees and start taking online classes, their kids will not be admitted for the next year and miss a year,” said a teacher from a Bengaluru school, which is conducting online classes for kindergarten students.
The teacher, who requested anonymity, added, “It’s very difficult to hold the attention of the students during the class if they are in their home environment. Parents too have to be present during the process, and it’s a useless exercise overall.”
Parents have already been given orientation sessions and a sample class. One parent said, “I don’t mind if there are a couple of hours of activities for my daughter besides sleeping and watching TV. The school has also held an orientation session with us and told us that children will forget their alphabets and numbers if they don’t keep practising it. But it is also a problem for me as I have to set aside some of my work so that my child is fully engaged in the class.”
The parent also voiced her concerns about whether online classes were completely necessary. “I think online classes don’t work if the class strength is high or if some child needs extra attention, leaving all the other students waiting. Children get bored and start playing with their toys when this happens.”
While the state government has not announced when schools can reopen, it has said that it will take action on any complaints received about schools conducting online classes for kindergarten children.