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Schools could resume with 30% students ‘at a time’ after lockdown, HRD minister hints




File photo of HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal
File photo of HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal | ANI

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New Delhi: Schools are likely to see only 30 per cent of attendance at a time once students get back to classrooms after the Covid-19 lockdown, Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said as he informed teachers about proposed government guidelines to resume classes. 

Schools and colleges across the country have been closed since the second week of March in the wake of Covid-19. As reported by ThePrint last week, the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is working on guidelines for the reopening of schools after the lockdown. Some of the suggested measures include having no assembly sessions, seminars and gatherings in schools for a long time. Apart from this, schools are also likely to call only 30 per cent of students at a time to maintain social distancing.

During a live interaction with teachers via video-conferencing, Pokhriyal said, “We have asked NCERT to prepare guidelines for re-opening schools and they have done most of the work. The guidelines suggest various things like calling 30 per cent students at a time. If 30 per cent students have to be called in at a time, we will have to see how that needs to work out.” 

Also Read: May-end date likely for pending CBSE Class 10, 12 board exams, if lockdown ends on schedule

A shift system in schools?

Officials in NCERT told ThePrint that the council has suggested two ways a staggered attendance system can be pulled off – either calling some students on one day and the remaining on other days, or managing in shifts wherever it is possible.

While there is no clarity from the government on when schools will reopen, states like Delhi are looking at a July date to reopen. 

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said in an interview this week that he hopes to see students back in classrooms in July. “We hope to be able to welcome our children back to school in July, but are actively working on contingency plans, in case there are further delays,” he told India Today on 11 May

‘Don’t combine evaluation work with online teaching’

Apart from plans to start the new academic session, the HRD minister also informed teachers who are on board evaluation duty that they do not need to juggle it with online classes.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has started the evaluation work for Class 10-12 board exams from 12 May. Answer sheets are being sent to teachers’ homes so that all safety norms are followed. 

Pokhriyal’s assurance came as some teachers complained to the minister that they were being made to take online classes while carrying out evaluation work. 

“Teachers who are involved with evaluation work need not take online classes. The CBSE has also issued these guidelines. We understand that both things are not possible at the same time,” he said.

This was the third live interaction that the HRD Minister has held in the last one month. Before this, he spoke to parents and students in two separate live interactions where he answered various queries about the lockdown. He also plans to hold a similar interaction with vice-chancellors across the country to discuss the resumption of higher-education institutes after the Covid lockdown.  

Also Read: Why online classes may not be such a good idea after all, especially for kids


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‘PM eVIDYA’, to boost digital education, part of Modi govt’s final tranche of Covid package




Nirmala Sitharaman
Nirmala Sitharaman at the press conference Sunday | ThePrint Photo | Praveen Jain

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New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Sunday announced the launch of ‘PM eVIDYA’ programme while sharing the breakup of the fifth and last installment of the government’s Rs 20 lakh crore Covid-19 package.

ThePrint had earlier reported that PM eVIDYA package would be one of the major steps the government will take for the education sector during lockdown.

One of the main components of the new programme is the ‘One Class One Channel’ initiative where classes will be conducted on dedicated channels in the television.

Twelve DTH channels will be dedicated to the programme — one channel for each class from 1 to 12.

“The government has launched Swayam Prabha DTH channels to support and reach those who do not have access to the internet, now 12 more channels will be added,” Sitharaman said.

The Swayam Prabha is HRD ministry’s free-to-air education channels, which consists of a group of 32 DTH channels that provide educational content.

The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has already started working on the content for the channels. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) had on 4 May written to the NCERT to keep the content ready before the scheme is officially launched.

‘One Nation, One Digital Platform’

The other component in the PM eVIDYA package is the DIKSHA portal (One Nation, One Digital Platform) which will provide quality educational content to researchers and students.

The portal has QR coded text books for school children from all grades. It also includes the SWAYAM, the MOOCs platform, which is already being used by various universities and colleges in India for accessing courses online.

Apart from this, the finance minister also said that top 100 universities will be permitted to start online courses by 30 May.  This will include institutions like Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other institutes of national importance.

Also read: Coronavirus has forced 51% non-STEM Indian students to drop plan to study abroad: QS report


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