BHUBANESWAR: Faced with a situation where lack of internet access is rendering online education, including the latest initiative of live streaming classes on YouTube, largely ineffective, the State government is mulling an alternative teaching programme to be implemented in offline mode.
The government is planning to mobilise teachers in rural areas of districts where COVID infection has receded to reach out to students at their villages and conduct classes in small clusters with adequate social distancing in place.
Besides, video content on learning would also be created and shared on different platforms including WhatsApp, which students not having immediate access to internet will be able to watch later.
The move comes following realisation that the various online modes of teaching along with the latest YouTube live streaming have not been able to attain maximum student coverage, mainly due to lack of internet access or possessing a computer or smartphone.
Only around 10 lakh students are accessing the live streaming of classes on YouTube. "We are working out a plan for students who do not have access to online education. We will launch the programme soon," said School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash.
The modalities of how the left-out students will be taught till classes start in physical mode are being worked out. "While we have plenty of options for students having access to e-learning, we are trying our best to reach out to those who are deprived of learning due to unavailability of mobile phone, computer and internet," the Minister said.
Sources in the SME department said that though live streaming of lessons on YouTube has started for students of Class I to X to provide them classroom learning experience, only around eight to 10 lakh students are able to access it.
Cluster plan for students deprived of online education
The State has around 60 lakh students studying at elementary, secondary and higher secondary levels. However, less than 33 per cent of them had access to digital learning till last year. Though the percentage has increased to around 40 per cent in last one year, a majority of the students still are hindered by poor mobile and internet penetration in rural Odisha.
As per the Economic Survey report, around 20 per cent of the total 51,311 villages in Odisha do not have mobile connectivity. Data also suggests that for every 100 people in rural Odisha, only 16 have internet access. The figure is 83.3 in urban areas.