Online classes are amplifying inequality, say parents & kids

MYSURU: In the absence of clarity on the new academic year 2020-21 and the attempted shift to online education during the Covid-19 pandemic in the state, students and parents from Tier-II cities are worried about the future of their kids and as they believe it increases inequality in access to education.

While private schools in Bengaluru are holding online classes, a majority of the government schools, including residential schools have been turned into Covid- 19 quarantine centres in Tier-II cities as well as rural areas.

Parents and students fear they may lose a few more months as the private schools in their cities are yet to gear up for online classes.

One of the major concerns of parents is that the students in big cities, particularly those preparing for the SSLC, II PUC and national level competitive exams like NEET and JEE will end up having the upper hand over students from smaller cities and rural areas.

For instance in Mysuru, none of the government schools have launched online activities for students in Class 1-10, while only around 50% of the private unaided schools have begun virtual classes for their students.

Sudhakar S Shetty, president, CBSE, ICSE State Board Private School Association (System), said online activities have started for students above Class 4 in several private schools. “They cannot substitute the regular classes. The objective is to engage the students,” he said.

According to Santosh Kumar, district representative of the Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools (KAMS), only 50% of the private schools have launched online classes in Mysuru. “Many schools started for students of class 1 to 8. However, few other schools have launched virtual classesf or higher grades. There is no uniformity,” he said.

“The government should either permit all schools to start online classes or stop all the schools from holding such an exercise. Students should not face discrimination,” said Janardhan B, a parent and a resident of TK Layout.

“It is true that a section of people from disadvantaged sections of society believe that their children are discriminated against. It is natural and I am against online classes,” Child Rights Trust executive director Vasudeva Sharma told TOI.

“We have advised the department of library to distribute books and other learning materials at the village level to engage students. It is a difficult time,” he added.

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