Online classes not a substitute for Classroom teaching: Education Minister

Shillong, May 22: Meghalaya Education Minister Lahkmen Rymbui, on Thursday, said that the government is planning to re-open schools, colleges and other educational institutions as soon as possible, since the state is not equipped to substitute classroom teaching with online classes.

He said that the department will ensure all protocols for social-distancing, sanitising etc. are followed. He added that they will be taking academic content into consideration when re-opening all educational institutes.

The Minister, in his reply to a question placed by Congress MLA Zenith Sangma in the Assembly, said that although online classes are currently being conducted in the state, it is only supplementary and not a substitute for classrooms.

Rymbui also admitted that there is a technology divide between students of the state. He pointed out that the state faces connectivity issues, and 4G isn’t available in many regions.

He added that the department is aware that there are several students who can’t afford smart phones, laptops, tablets or other such gadgets to participate in online classes and that many teachers also lack the know-hows of online teaching.

In order to tackle this situation, he informed that Doordarshan Kendra has been airing educational content from 11 am to 2 pm every day. Content is also being shared through radio from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm, he revealed.  

The Education Minister revealed that there are currently over 9 lakh students in the state, and that the government can’t afford to provide any subsidy on gadgets for the students.  

Responding on the issue of challenges faced by Private Schools due to COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown, the minister said that the department has no funds to provide monetary assistance for these schools as of yet, however he added that they are examining the matter and will try to come up with a solution.