MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government plans to start the new academic year for schools from June 15 via e-learning method and has requested the Centre to provide a 12-hour slot to it on Doordarshan for airing educational programmes for children.
It has also sought two hours slot on All India Radio (AIR) for such programmes for school children.
On Friday, state School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said the endeavour is to reach out to the students in tribal and rural Maharashtra, where e-learning and internet access is a problem.
"Health of the children is a priority for the government and at the same time we do not want the academic year to be delayed. I am holding discussion with all the stakeholders to find out a solution on how to move further," Gaikwad said.
She said most of the schools of the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary & Higher Secondary Education are in COVID- 19 containment zones or the premises are being used for quarantine facilities of patients.
"Most of the teachers, too, are on COVID-19 duty," she said.
"Schools will have to be restarted only after taking the parents into confidence. Till then, we are exploring the option of e-learning. We are finding out how the internet connectivity issues in different parts of the state can be resolved. In many villages, Android phones penetration is less," she said.
The minister said that the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of schools a month before the summer vacations and a more prolonged lockdown means students are at a huge risk of losing significant instructional time.
Gaikwad said she has written to Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on May 27regarding utilisation of DD National channels for school education.
She said the Maharashtra government, along with the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), is figuring out different ways to support the student learning in such difficult times.
The SCERT has prepared audio-visual syllabus with the help of NGOs. She said that she told the Union minister in the letter that the state government has its virtual classroom studios, through which transmission of live educational content can be disseminated.
Maharashtra would be interested in using the facility of broadcasting 12 hours of daily educational content through any of the two channels, which come under the DD National channel family and two hour of daily content on radio, she said. The SCERT has 1,000 hours of content ready, she said in the letter.