The State government has decided to ban live virtual classes for pre-primary and lower primary (up to class 5) students. The decision was taken after the authorities received complaints from parents about the duration of online classes that private schools were conducting.
After a meeting with experts and department officials, Primary and Secondary Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar, at a press conference on Wednesday, said that while live virtual classes were banned, schools could have pre-recorded modules, along the lines of those conducted by the department on DD Chandana.
“Online classes cannot supplement classroom teaching. Many private schools are in a hurry to complete the syllabus but there is a need to move away from this approach,” he said.
The department has also formed a committee of experts that will issue guidelines pertaining to online learning.
It is likely to recommend that even pre-recorded videos be of a shorter duration, and it will also put a cap on the screen time for online classes for those students in higher primary and high schools.
Experts from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-sciences have stated that for higher classes, screen time should be restricted to two-and-a-half hours. All committee members are unanimous on the importance of supplementing online learning with “offline activities”.
Mr. Suresh Kumar also specified that schools should ensure that students who do not have access to smartphones and computers are not excluded.
“The gap between the haves and the have-nots should not be widened owing to these classes,” he said.
Many parents however expressed disappointment with the decision as they wanted a complete ban on online classes.
“The government has said only live classes can be banned. My daughter is in class three and her school sends pre-recorded lessons and gives her homework. I was hoping that the government would put an end to this,” said Harish S., a software engineer.
A headmaster of a government school in North Bengaluru said that he was disappointed that no decision was taken regarding classes for students in government schools.
“The government is only worried about private schools and online classes they conduct. They have not given any road map for learning for government school students,” he said. A large number of students in the state do not have access to mobile phones, computers, and the Internet.
Mr. Suresh Kumar also said that schools cannot collect excess fees for conducting online classes.