Now Odisha turns to radio for classes

Unlock sees parents leave for work sites with family’s only smart phone

As online classes fail to reach most students due to poor mobile connectivity, the Odisha government has now turned to radio to reach out to children in remote areas of the State.

The School and Mass Education Department will launch classroom teaching through All India Radio from Monday.

“As the schools could not be opened due to COVID-19 pandemic, we had tried to reach students with online classes, mostly through smart phones. But, virtual classes have their inherent drawbacks. Of the 60 lakh students, we were hardly reaching to 22 lakhs during lockdown,” said State School and Mass Education Minister Sameer Ranjan Dash.

Mr. Dash pointed out, “The situation worsened further when lockdown was lifted. Many parents started returning to their workplaces taking the only smart phone in the family with them. As per our assessment, the number of students taking online classed dropped to 6 to 7 lakh after the unlock.”

“It is well known that radio can be heard even in the remotest parts. Moreover, radio is cheap compared to expensive smart phones and the recurring cost is also low. We hope to cover more students with the radio school programme,” he said.

As per the plan, students from Class I to VIII can learn their lessons through 15-minutes of teaching by experienced teachers through radio. It will be available everyday from 10 a.m. to 10.15 a.m.

“A student could cover six pages of his textbook within 15 minutes of radio programme. Though the teaching through radio would not be effective as it could have been in physical classroom, the extraordinary situation has forced us to try different methods for reaching students,” the Minister said.

Schools in Odisha have been closed since March 17. However, children have been provided textbooks.

Three hours of classroom instruction are also available through Doordarshan. Since considerable time has been lost due closure of schools, school syllabus has been reduced by 30%.

Recently, the National Human Rights Commission issued notices to Education Ministry over the inability of students to follow online classes. Human rights lawyer Radhakant Tripathy had moved NHRC stating that 38 lakh students from Odisha were unable to access online education due to unavailability of requisite digital infrastructure.

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