More than 65 per cent of students enrolled in Jharkhand's government schools cannot access to online classes, figures with the school education and literacy department have highlighted.
As many as 42 lakh students are enrolled in classes 1 to 12 in government schools but only about 14 lakh of them attend online classes, education officials said.
“We have created WhatsApp groups of 3200 BRP (block resource person) and CRP (cluster resource person), who are connected to the teachers in their area. The teachers have further created a group of students in their schools,” said state programme officer for quality education Abhinav Kumar.
“We have been able to connect only 14 lakh students so far over WhatsApp as most of the government school students do not have smartphones at home,” he added.
The state government launched the Digi Sath initiative, which used WhatsApp as a platform for imparting lessons to students online during the lockdown. Students can also access classes on Doordarshan. However, the government does not have the data of students who were benefitting from classes on TV, officials said.
Kumar said that the government has also started using YouTube channels for imparting lessons to school students. The response to TV is the best as around 67 per cent households in Jharkhand have television sets, Kumar added.
A third- party assessment is being done to find out how many students are availing the benefits of digital classes and the report is likely to be available by the end of July, an official from the school education and literacy department said.
Principal of Upgraded Middle School Ekdary, under Hussainabad block in Palamau, Nirmal Kumar Singh said teachers in his school had to visit various villages and teach children as a majority of students could not avail of the benefits of online classes there.
Rameshwar Mehta, the principal of Rajkiya Madhya Vidyalaya Dangwar in Palamau, said that many students in villages of Hussainabad did not even have access to television sets, and therefore, they could not benefit from tutorials telecast on DD channels.
“We visit villages of students who do not have access to smartphones and TV sets. The location for the classes is decided, and students are asked to come to the location, usually in the morning," Mehta said. “We take all necessary precautions during the classes. Social distancing is maintained, and students or teachers are not allowed to join if they don't wear masks," he added.
As many as 499 children are enrolled in Mehta's school, but less than 100 of them have smartphones at home, he said.
Rajesh Kumar, the principal of Middle School Hussainabad, said that many students sell vegetables and samosas to eke out a living. “How do you expect them to have smartphones?” he asked.