Published: 06th April 2020
What about students with no access to net, Pondicherry University student asks VC about online classes
Shalini pointed out that many students are in regions that don't get any network at all and she also threw light not he fact that not all children have access to a laptop either
Ever since the lockdown was announced, several universities have prided themselves on how quick they were to set up online classes, others, online tutorials for their teachers to equip themselves with online teaching tools. Even outside the four walls of the classroom, universities claimed they could still efficiently impart education. But have we stopped to think what happens to the students who don't have access to the internet, who don't live in environments where they can study? Students who have disabilities?
Shalini S, the Representative of the School of Humanities in Pondicherry University has written to the administration reflecting these very points. While pointing out the factors that are a cause of concern with online classes, Shalini says, "I would like to highlight some of the factors that may not incline towards online classes taking into account our university; it may as well apply to any other higher educational institutions."
Shalini pointed out that many students are in regions that don't get any network at all and she also threw light not he fact that not all children have access to a laptop either, "Not all the students have access to high speed internet. Many students are in areas where they get no network at all. Online classes are a mere fancy to them. There are departments in our university who conduct classes through Skype. A few students are not able to participate because they can't access internet. The point of education is lost when it doesn't reach everyone equally. And not every student is expected to have a laptop."
Shalini also raises concerns for students who are part of HEPSN (Higher Education for Students with Special Needs), "With the lockdown, it will be difficult for them to seek help outside to type their assignments or get volunteers to read for them (given that they could be first generation learners). They can't access the materials sent by the professors either," she adds.
During the times that we're going through, many have stressed the need to do everything in our power to stay sane. Experts have said that the lockdown and social distancing could greatly impact mental health. Therefore, it is important to prioritise the mental health of students too, Shalini said in her letter, "Many students might be silently struggling with various issues. They might not have the proper environment to study and do their work while confined within four walls. Assignments and online classes might as well be an extra burden," the student adds.
The representative suggested a few ways in which the administration could help the students who might be struggling to keep up. She suggested that the portions be limited to the lessons taught to the students before the lockdown was announced. "The extra notes that have been sent by professors so far are highly acknowledged and they shall be read by students to keep themselves engaged with academics during the crisis," she said. She also requested that if the professor had happened to take an internal test or assignment before the lockdown was announced that they may not conduct further tests or assignments.
"For students who are taking up projects and practical this semester, provisions shall be made accordingly by the respective professors (after consulting the students and addressing their grievances)," she suggested.
Shalini urged the VC, Registrar and Dean of Students Welfare that given the current situation, it was important that they put the students' wellness before productivity, "If the administration has better provisions to make, it would be of great help to the student community. The university shall not remain unobservant in providing equal importance to every single student studying in its campus."