Online classes fail to impress, parents want schools to reopen: Survey

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New Delhi: Only 14% students are attending physical schools in India even as states have allowed opening up of educational institutions. Also, one-third parents want schools to reopen from June-July, says a survey by community engagement platform Local Circles.

Almost 80% of parents are unhappy with online education despite the huge push and promise, the survey underlined. Their readiness to send children to school in the next two months is driven by this learning loss though the survey also showed that the fear of covid-19 among students and parents is still there.

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While 14% parents and family members said schools have already reopened and children have started attending, 17% said schools are open but children “are not going or doing online classes”.

“While 17% of parents said that school authorities should consider opening from 15 Feb, 20% want it to open from 1 March. Similarly, 13% of parents favour physical reopening of schools from 1 April and sizable 32% said June or July 2021″.

The finding assumes significance as several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Uttarakhand, are reopening most of the classes from this week following a fall in covid-19 case load, even as vaccination of children is yet to take place. Of course, states have asked schools to take written permission from parents.

The survey, which captured responses from 16,000 participants, said only 19% of parents rate online classes effective and 79% found them to be less effective than in the physical mode. Rest 2% did not give an answer.

“During the pandemic, most schools in urban districts of India were able to provide online education and assignments to students…through there were teething issues early on. However, students from remote parts of the country missed this year’s session due to least or no infrastructure available for them to take online classes during the pandemic,” the survey said.

Giving an insight into online classes, the survey claimed that 9% parents said it is “significantly more effective”, and another 10% said “as effective as in-person school”. But a majority of 41% citizens found the virtual mode “somewhat less effective”, and 38% termed it “significantly less effective”. Put together, 79% were not satisfied with the online education outcome.

The union government and states have made efforts to push online education to reduce the disruption. However, only one-third of India’s school children are pursuing online education and a smaller cohort of this — 32.5% — are taking live virtual classes, according to the Annual Status of Education Report published in October 2020.

The report underlined how the digital divide is still wide in the school sector and just 11% of all students enrolled in both private and government schools were using live online classes, while another 21.5% were using videos or recorded classes. And if one considers children of government schools alone, only 8.1% of those enrolled were attending online classes across the country.

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