FTII students desperately reach out to Shekhar Kapur in a bid to stop online classes, but to no avail

The FTII Students Association (FSA) on Friday also sought a meeting with the institute's chairman Shekhar Kapur to express their concerns
Image for representational purpose (Pic: shiksha.com)
Image for representational purpose (Pic: shiksha.com)

Students at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Pune have sought suspension of online classes being conducted for the 2020 batch but the institute is remaining firm that they will take a call only after a week. Students claim that it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to attend classes due to the challenges posed by the Coronavirus crisis coupled with inaccessibility to or lack of resources such as basic internet connectivity and materials required to attend the courses.

The FTII Students Association (FSA) on Friday also sought a meeting with the institute's chairman Shekhar Kapur to express their concerns. "FTII administration has been enforcing mandatory online classes for the newly admitted 2020 batch students. The students of this batch have been raising various concerns about the online medium of education over the last month. In reply FTII administration is strangling students with mandatory attendance criteria which are a violation of the attendance criteria mentioned in the UGC guidelines for online classes," the FSA wrote in a release demanding the immediate suspension of the online classes.

Aman Modi, a first-year, TV Cinematography student at FTII, who had been attending online classes since the beginning of the academic year tells us, "Online classes have been going on for the past few months since the second wave of the pandemic, a lot of students don't have the resources to attend the classes in the first place. Almost half of our batch has been affected by COVID, it's either the students or their immediate family members. There is a lot of distress, technological and financial stress. We have tried speaking to FTII Chairman Shekhar Kapur, wrote emails to the authorities, there has been no effective response yet. The classes are still on and attendance is mandatory, however, most of us aren't attending the classes to express our concerns and dissent. We are getting emails saying that these classes won't be held again and that it is affecting our attendance."

The advisory issued by the institution for online classes include requirements such as a fixed wired Internet connection with a speed of 10 MBPS or more, with an approximate download limit of not less than 6 GB per day, the latest version of Google Chrome Web Browser - or other browsers compatible with Google Meet/Classroom platform, a desktop/laptop with 4 GB RAM or more/ Compatible HD webcam/Compatible good quality headphones/earphones with mic. The students argue that some do not have a basic internet connection back home and it becomes extremely difficult for them to manage such requirements at a distressful time like this.

Rajarshi Majumdar, a third-year student and the FSA general secretary claimed that the major issue was the accessibility to resources required to attend the classes and alleged there was no effort from the administration to arrange these for the students. "Classes are practical oriented, for the 2020 batch they began the online classes, only the theory part. On campus, the film learning takes 25 days approximately, but online it will go on for 3-4months. This can be completed later when the situation is better. A lot of universities have already suspended online classes. There are many students from rural areas, just to avail broadband connectivity they might have to move to a nearby city, which is not convenient at this point. The chairman said he will conduct a meeting with us and we are waiting for that to happen," he added.

The FTII administration has agreed to speak to the students on May 18, but they want to meet him sooner and said that waiting another week would be quite long.

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