By Manjima Dhakal, Kathmandu, May 3: Although most of the academic institutions were in dilemma for long to operate classes in an alternative way during last year's lockdown, many academic institutions have already started virtual classes without doing any delay this time after the government decided to close schools and colleges of the urban areas after the second wave of COVID-19 began spreading.
The infrastructure they prepared in the first lockdown made the academic institutions capable to run classes virtually immediately after the lockdown came into effect this time.
Schools and colleges are running classes from alternative modes as they initiated for infrastructure during the first lockdown because the required infrastructure was already developed especially in city area academic institutions.
Pesal Dahal, the registrar at the Tribhuvan University, said all campuses had already started their classes virtually because the TU was in connection with its students virtually from last year’s lockdown. Besides schools and TU, all universities are now running virtual classes for their students.
As Dahal said universities and many private schools are operating virtual classes smoothly from different applications like Zoom, Microsoft, Messengers, Google Meet, and others. Many private schools of the Kathmandu Valley are also taking the final examinations virtually.
Also, many community schools are also operating virtual classes, mostly for the students of a higher grade. Hom Nath Bhandari, the headmaster of Prabhat Secondary School, Chitwan, said soon after the closure of the school they started virtual classes for senior students while they sent worksheets for the junior students.
Bhandari informed that other schools of the district are also adopting the same method. However, Bhandari has a bitter experience of a few participating students in classes. All students are not joining the classes virtually because of the lack of internet access with their guardians and also because of extreme fear of the virus, he claimed.
He illustrated another fact behind the less participation of students in virtual classes is that students may not be attending the classes with an expectation that they could be upgraded in senior classes even if they did not attend virtual classes. To control such assumptions of students and guardians, the stakeholders have suggested conducting any type of evaluation instead of upgrading them automatically.
Dr. Biddhya Nath Koirala, an educationist, said schools can send creative tasks, research-based assignments to the students at their homes rather than upgrading them automatically."If we upgrade students without any test, a bad culture can be set in the education sector," he further said.
Heramba Raj Kandel, the headmaster of Bishwo Niketan School, Tripureshwor, said though slow and gradual technological development can be noticed in schools, many students don't have access to technology at their home.
“My school is also unable to run virtual classes for junior students but more than 70 per cent of students of senior classes are attending virtual classes regularly,” he said. Schools were closed this time when the students were preparing for the final examinations. Schools, teachers, and students are still in confusion as to how the final examinations could be conducted when the authorities have not taken any decision in this regard.