Student: Sir, how are you? Are you safe?
Teacher: Generally it is okay here. But things could have been better.
This was the first conversation between a medical student sitting in Kolkata and his teacher at the college in Ukraine when classes resumed online since Russia attacked the country.
Several medical colleges in Ukraine started online classes for students on Monday, while others said they would resume teaching soon.
Around 18,000 Indian medical students study in colleges in Ukraine. Most of them have returned to India after the war broke out.
“Our classes started at 12.30pm (IST) today. We had only the social medicine class but our teacher did not come. Another teacher from a different class met us online and we had a short 30-minute class,” said Mikhail Alam, a third-year student of Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University, in Iva
The second class started at 3.40pm, he added. In the second class, students were given a written task that they were scheduled to discuss online after 40 minutes.
“Sir was having network issues. Hence, he gave us a written task. The connection was better after some time. Then he took our viva,” Mikhail said.
When students asked the teacher in Ukraine about his well-being, he answered: “Generally it is okay here. But things could have been better.”
The class has been broken into smaller clusters of 12-15 students each.
“I am part of a group of 12 students. We have a few Nigerian classmates who, too, attended the class from their home,” Mikhail said.
Souhardhya Roy, a fourth-year student of Ternopil National Medical University said they had two classes on Monday — surgery and pathology.
“Most of our teachers had shifted to Poland or Ivano from where they would take classes. We have done online classes for a year when the pandemic broke out. But we had practical surgery classes from fourth year. I am not sure how we are going to do that online,” Souhardhya said.
Souhardhya’s father Partha Pratim Roy said for hands-on experience of surgery, it was most important to have in-person classes. And that could be possible only if the students are allowed to enroll in Indian institutes.
“It is about the future of so many young students who are going to become doctors. How can they learn surgery online?” he wondered.
Other institutes are also planning to start online classes soon.
The authorities of Zaporizhzhia State Medical University sent a video message to its students announcing that the university was ready to start online classes.
Arka Samadder, a first-year student of the institute, said they were informed by the authorities that online classes would start on April 1.
“Teachers have told us that they are safe. They are delaying the classes to give us time to recover from the stress of the journey back home,” said Arka.
He had joined the institute in December last year. Since February last week, the institute has been holding online classes as the number of Covid cases started rising again.
“But then we were sitting in the hostel barely 500 metres away from the classroom. Now, we are thousands of kilometers away,” he said.