Colleges start online classes but students don’t have reliable internet accessTribhuvan University has requested telecom service providers to reduce the price of the mobile data plans.
With signs that the threat of Covid-19 pandemic will not subside anytime soon, BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, on Monday started online classes for its students.
The college started classes for MBBS final year students who had been on holiday for over a month. The goal of the online classes is to ensure that students complete their course on time while they continue to engage in the learning activities even when they are locked in their houses, the college said.
However, students say it’s not easy for them to access online classes. Students who don’t have a reliable internet connection are worried that they won’t get to take full advantage of online classes.
Sunita Pujara from Bajhang is among those students struggling to attend online classes.
“I have broadband internet, but it’s not reliable for two reasons: first, we don’t have regular power supply, and second, connection is not stable,” she told the Post. She said online classes were necessary for students like her to complete their course of study on time, but the classes should have been started after assessing their feasibility.
Kamal Singh Thakuri from Basti, Bajhang, a third year student at the same college, has received information that his online classes will start on Sunday. Thakuri does not have broadband internet and he can access the classes only on his mobile phone. “I have heard that mobile data plans are expensive,” he told the Post.
As resumption of classes in the near future looks improbable, many colleges and universities such as BP Koirala institute have started or are planning to start online classes for students. Tribhuvan University, for instance, is training around 500 of its teachers to start online classes. It has directed all affiliated colleges to switch to online classes.
Similarly, the Ministry of Education has formed an expert team to recommend the government to resume classes in schools using the internet.
“We are at the final stage in launching online classes,” said Dr Dharma Kanta Banskota, vice-chancellor at Tribhuvan University. He said that the university has found that around 95 percent of students from the science stream are in touch with the respective departments, and are willing to take classes online.
Banskota said the university has found that almost every student at the university level has a smartphone that can be used to attend classes online.
Students, however, say the university can’t make such assumptions based on its discussions with students from town and cities.
“I am sure that hundreds of students under the Tribhuvan University don’t have access to the internet,” Naresh Regmi, a student leader close to the ruling Nepal Communist Party, told the Post. “Mobile data plans are quite expensive and they cannot afford it.”
Banskota accepts that the mobile data plans are expensive. Therefore, the university has requested mobile service providers to reduce the cost of the data packages. “We have requested Nepal Telecom and Ncell to reduce prices for students, and they are positive about it,” he said. He also said classes will start for courses that can get at least 50 percent of their students to attend online.