Online admission unreasonable in Arunachal, online classes a cruel joke on poor students, say teachers

Staff Reporter

ITANAGAR, Aug 11: Even as some schools in the urban areas have finished the admission process while admission is ongoing in some, teachers have questioned the admission process as well as online classes in Arunachal, saying that it’s not only impractical but is a tool to shame students and guardians who cannot afford to buy smartphones or make online payments.

Education Secretary Niharika Rai had in an order issued on 21 July written that “provisional admission of students from feeder schools be started immediately through online in urban/headquarters and in rural areas by strictly maintaining SOP, subject to submission of documents as and when schools are reopened.”

The admission process was asked to be completed by 31 July, but it has since been extended to mid-August.

Teachers say that admission forms are sent by the department and have to be filled out.

“Teachers are filling out the forms on behalf of students, and the students need to be present to give the required information. We collect information from students and fill it out,” said a teacher.

Physical verification of documents of new students seeking admission is necessary, so the students and their guardians come to schools.

“Provisional admission may be granted to all the students, provided their documents are submitted at a later stage,” the order reads.

“We can’t take chances with fake mark sheets and other testimonials, so new students and their parents need to come to the school,” said a teacher, questioning the order.

In some schools, fees are not being taken, while in some schools parents have been asked to pay through the online mode. Many parents don’t have online payment facility, so they come to schools to make the payment.

Some schools are charging fees far beyond the prescribed limit, while some are not charging any fee.

The education department had ordered that each student from Classes 9 to 12 is to pay Rs 120 as admission fee, Rs 100 for AISS/AISSC (internal) board examination per annum, and the prescribed fees of the CBSE.

“Apart from these prescribed fee norms, no other fees should be collected/taken from the students for the academic session 2020-21,” the order reads.

However, fees as high as Rs 1,500 are being charged for higher classes.

In the areas where internet connectivity is not available, the department has asked the schools to go ahead with regular admission, but the problem appears to be the same in almost all the schools, even in the urban areas, as there is no system in place to make sure that online admission works.

The order further reads that all schools should start conducting online classes, and that every school should conduct minimum of three online classes per day through Google Meet or any such platform.

However, the order says nothing about training of teachers and how it is going to be imparted.

Every teacher should create a virtual group for different classes. For students who don’t have mobile phones, the mobile numbers of their parents/guardians/family members may be collected, according to the order.

“Every teacher should conduct online live classes for their respective chapters through Google Meet/Google Classroom or any other such platforms where students can interact with the teachers,” the order reads.

The department has further said that regular classes for Classes 1 to 12 are being telecast on Swayam Prabha and Arun Prabha.

Even this provision is not applicable, as many families do not own TV sets and there is no electricity in most parts of the state, teachers say.

“Even in urban towns, there is constant power cut,” said a teacher.

The department needs to come up with a workable plan for the students as most of the students who go to government schools come from the economically poorer section, they say.

Sharing her experience, one of the teachers said that many families are not able afford notebooks and pencils, so there is no way for them to own a TV or a mobile phone for online classes. (All the teachers that this reporter spoke to requested anonymity.)