Sunday, 31 May, 2020
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Schools scramble to run virtual classes



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By Manjima Dhakal

Kathmandu, Apr. 30: Stakeholders of school education have stated that running virtual classes will not be practical without providing technical support to the students who have no access to technology. The stakeholders stated that even in the city areas students could not benefit from virtual classes due to technical and financial problems.
Padhma Kanya Vidhyashram Secondary School, Kathmandu started online classes about 10 days ago targeting students preparing for the Secondary Education Examination. However, only a few students have been able to avail of the video-based classes, according to the school.
Rita Tiwari, headmaster of the school, said only about 20 per cent students are attending the SEE preparation classes in lack of access to Internet.
"If the government wants to run classes even in lockdown, it should come up with a special plan to address all students. Otherwise, the schools cannot run regular classes from such medium, which will only widen digital divide among the students," Tiwari said. Like Padhma Kanya, Vishwo Niketan School, Tripureswor, has also started online classes for Grade XI from this week. Heramba Raj Kandel, headmaster of the school, said only about 15 per cent were regular in the classes.
"Many students don't have tools like laptop and mobile for online classes. Even if they have it, they cannot afford to manage Internet access," said Kandel.
In such a situation, the schools have called new Grade X students to come in contact for planning the online classes for them. However, only a few students informed that they could take online classes, Kandel informed.
“Therefore, homework for such online classes is good rather than imposing the plan right away,” Kandel said. Other virtual medium like radio, television and other alternative medium could be better for now, he added.
Though the community school operators find it difficult to run the online classes, many private schools have started teaching virtually, which has pleased the parents as well as students.
Sagun Thapa, a mother of a pre-school child, said her daughter was happy and felt good that she was connected with outer community as she met other friends and teachers through online classes.
Like Thapa, Ramesh Gurung of Kathmandu was thankful to school administration for at least making his children engage in their study.
Rituraj Sapkota, chairperson of National Private and Boarding School Association Nepal (NPABSON), said though many schools of the city area had already started running online classes, NPABSON was conducting a survey regarding the capacity of schools as to whether they could manage to run classes virtually.
DK Dhungana, co-chairperson of the Private and Boarding School Association Nepal (PABSON), said there was no option but to embrace virtual medium in the time of crisis by strengthening technological aspects and adopting different schemes. He suggested applying other alternative mediums for distance education. 

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