Published: 21st August 2020
Online classes may be fashionable, but not valuable: Why ex-VSNL chief wants a zero year declared till COVID passes
Padma Shri Dr Tripuraneni Hanuman Chowdary wrote to the Telangana CM asking him to discontinue online classes and call 2020 a zero year
With the COVID crisis raging across the world, learning had no other way but to go online. But is online education effective in a country like India? The question has been raised more often than not in debates during the lockdown. Dr Tripuraneni Hanuman Chowdary, a seasoned IT and connectivity veteran, has recently written to the Chief Minister of Telangana, K Chandrashekar Rao to consider announcing a 'zero year' for school students as the current system of online education is "not providing any knowledge to the kids".
Dr Chowdary, who is a former Chairman and MD of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL), the government firm that powered India's affordable internet revolution, in his letter, said that he has been monitoring three school-going kids whom he sponsors throughout their lockdown classes and he has noticed numerous fallacies. "Whatever decision a government takes there will be a critique to it. But they need to think like the parent of an eight-year-old who is being made to sit in front of the phone for hours," he said.
"Students see the teacher, teaching from her home. The teacher can’t see the students. She can’t observe what exactly the student is seeing or doing. The parents, too are working from home and cannot devout much time towards the kids. When it comes to kids from underprivileged backgrounds, they are not able to monitor the kids anyway," added the former Information Technology Advisor to the Government of Andhra Pradesh. Dr Chowdary was also the Deputy Director of the Department of Telecom and the Advisor to Reliance Industries. He is currently the Chairman of Pragna Bharati and the Director of Center for Telecom Management and Studies. He is also a Fellow of Tata Consultancy Services and the Convenor of Bharatiya Dharma Rakshana Samakhya.
But Dr Chowdary's letter is not just complaining about what is wrong with the online setup, he also suggests multiple ways out. "The schools should be opened only when the COVID crisis is over. Then we can even scrap the summer vacation, take extra classes or even cut down the syllabus a bit to finish early. The other option is to declare this a zero year. Online classes for school students are nothing but a delusion. What may be fashionable is not valuable," he added.