SILCHAR, May 17 - These days, Subhra Malakar, a class 5 student of Chandramoni-Indramoni LP School in Dudhpatil cluster, and a resident of Larsingpar, around 7 km from Silchar under Borkhola constituency in Cachar district, spends her time in the evening by distributing masks to people passing by her residence along with her friend Nabanita Barbhuiya.
Though her school is closed due to the lockdown, Subhra is not disappointed. In fact, she is happy to stay connected with her teachers via WhatsApp on her parents� phones.
Asked how she was coping with the situation, Subhra said, �Our teachers send study materials via phone and talk to us through video calls. The session starts at 10 am, and we stay connected with the teachers for two hours, except on Sundays.�
Following government instructions, schools in Cachar district have also shifted to the online mode, in a bid to keep the pace of education unaffected during the prolonged lockdown. Deputy Commissioner Keerthi Jalli said that though it was a priority to save the district from COVID-19, the focus was also on how students get proper education online.
Sujata Roychoudhury, a teacher at the No.669 Irongmara Bapuji LP School in Narsingpur block, said they share subject-based study contents via WhatsApp on the mobile phones of the parents.
�Besides uploading subject videos on YouTube, we have formed WhatsApp groups with students. Sharing contents in a virtual classroom has been a different experience for us. Though the medium is a bit challenging, the students share their feedback on the educational content almost instantly with their video clips and even audio files,� Roychoudhury said.
Debanjan Mukherjee, headmaster of Netaji Vidya Bhavan Girls High School in Silchar, said, �The students seem to enjoy the online format of academic discourse. Their feedback also gives us satisfaction.�
Panchatapa Choudhury, District Programme Officer for Teachers Training, told The Assam Tribune that they were accelerating the pace of dissemination of educational content for students across elementary and secondary school using digital applications.
�So far, we have been able to collect contact numbers of 73,326 students at the elementary level and 15,121 at the secondary level through the Cluster Resource Centre Coordinators. At the elementary level, 53,508 students are using general phones � for whom the teachers are passing on lessons based on discussions through phone calls, while 19,445 students who have access to smartphones are being imparted lessons online via WhatsApp, phone calls, video calls, conference, etc.�
�As many as 373 students are receiving inputs on academic lessons through radio programmes. Similar plans are on for students at the secondary level, with over 5,916 students having Android-based phones and 6,857 using general phones. Teachers working in LP and ME schools who were coordinating via the Zoom app have responded and are sending contents for students on the digital medium. The teachers have been asked to submit weekly reports every Saturday regarding how many students have been covered via WhatsApp and phone calls,� Choudhury said.
She said a letter has been sent to the Mission Director, Assam Sarba Shiksha Abhiyan, with a request for approval to organise programmes on English, Bengali and Social Science subjects for classes 6, 7, 8 through All India Radio at Silchar.
Bidyut Dev Choudhury, the district programme officer for community participation, said TV and radio-based programmes are already catering to students who do not have access to any phone. �We are likely to see new strategies as the government is devising new policies for reaching out to such students,� Deb Choudhury said.