GUWAHATI, April 23 - Although they live in a digital era, attending an online class is still a distant dream for a large section of college students residing in the rural areas of Assam.
For these students, weak cellular network, inability to buy a smart phone due to poor economic condition and frequent disruptions in power supply in their villages constitute stiff challenges for them to continue with academic activities amid the lockdown.
In the current academic year, college students of Assam have not been able to attend regular classes for more than two months because of the precautionary measures against the coronavirus. During this period, students of the science stream are the worst sufferers as they have not been able to do their laboratory works.
Explaining the problem, Principal of Moridhol College Dr Kamal Gogoi said, �For a college which is located in a rural area, online classes cannot not be an alternative option to continue with academic activities. Most of our students are not tech-savvy and for them attending an online class is not easy. Again, most of the students don�t have android mobiles. Apart from these issues, weak cellular network and frequent disruptions in electricity supply are really some big issues for us. So ultimately a huge number of students have been deprived of the online initiative.�
Echoing similar concerns, Principal of Barama College Tiken Chandra Das informed that all teachers of his college have been trying to keep their students engaged through online classes during the lockdown hours so that they can avert loss of classes. But, �Most of our students come from economically weaker sections and for them purchasing an android mobile is difficult. Moreover, frequent disruptions in electricity supply are also a normal phenomenon in our place,� Das said.
Principal of JB College Dr Bimal Bora informed that the online class system is working very well in case of arts students. But in case of science stream students, it is not so.
�During the lockdown hours we are trying to reach out to our students through online media. Our main motive is to keep them busy. Especially, we are using WhatsApp to reach out to them. But I think online classes cannot be a complete alternative to regular classes,� Bora said.
Dibyajyoti Hazarika, Principal of Maibong College stated that the students residing in rural areas have been deprived of availing the facilities of online classes due to various factors. �Now we are taking online classes through WhatsApp and trying to cover as many students as possible. We are also engaging our NSS volunteers in this regard. Moreover, we are in contact with many students over phone,� Hazarika said.
Vice Chancellor of Cotton University Prof Bhabesh Chandra Goswami informed that his university will develop a system so that they can continue with the online class facility in normal times too.
�It is a new experience for most of us. For the students who could not attend online classes due to technical problems, I instructed the teachers concerned to send the voice recording of classes to them through WhatsApp. Again, very soon we will appeal to our students to help the school children in their respective localities to continue with their studies,� Goswami told The Assam Tribune.
Head of the Department of Communication and Journalism, Gauhati University Dr Ankuran Dutta informed that after the recent thunderstorms, presence of students in the online classes decreased drastically. The department completed a hundred online classes recently.
General secretary of the Gauhati University Post Graduate Students� Union Moon Talukder asserted that more than 50 per cent students of the State have not been able to attend the online classes as most of them do not have android mobiles and adequate internet data. �It is not possible to conduct examinations after such online classes,� he said.