64 percent children didn’t find virtual learning effective, nationwide survey saysStudents across the country await resumption of in-person classes.
Upendra Chaudhary, a seventh grader from Saraswati Secondary School in Deukhuri, Dang, was completely cut off from his classes until the school started the in-person classes on November 22 after the festive season was over.
Though the government announced different ways for students to learn at home, Chaudhary didn’t benefit from any. He knew a local FM ran classes for three months, but he didn’t find them effective. “The classes were boring,” he told the Post. “Not just me, even my friends didn’t learn anything from it.”
The seventh grader said things have changed since he started attending in-person classes. The school is conducting classes for one half of the students each day with a student coming to school every alternate day.
The government in June issued directives for the facilitation of student’s learning, giving students different options –online study, study through audio (radio) and through audio-visual medium (TV). Schools across the country were closed from March 18, a week before the country went into a lockdownto contain the spread of Covid-19.
The government even announced that it would provide free sim cards and data packs to students who don't have access to the internet. However, different surveys show a large number of students have been left out from virtual learning.
A study carried out by the National Campaign for Education, an umbrella body of over 300 organisations working in the education sector, shows virtual learning was ineffective for 64.3 percent of students surveyed.
The survey carried out among 770 students, guardians and teachers from different districts in seven provinces shows the self-learning among students has also not been satisfactory. “Though over 60 percent of the schools were found to have prepared a plan for the virtual learning, it was not implemented at the community level,” said Suresh Gautam, one of the researchers. “Our study shows a lack of coordination between the three tiers of governments.”
Similarly, a survey report by UNICEF Nepal in August also showed that more than two-third of schoolchildren in Nepal are deprived of distance learning opportunities. Around 7 million students study at the school level from 36,000 schools across the country. Around 80 percent of them study in some 29,000 public schools.
The Child and Family Tracker Survey carried out among 7,500 households also shows that the poorer the household, the less likely it is that children have access to or use distance learning. “The data shows that only five percent of children in the poorest households have access to and use distance learning,” reads the report.
Eight months after the closure of the schools, the Cabinet in November first week endorsed the School Resumption Working Guideline, which allows the resumption of schools provided that they coordinate with representatives of the local government concerned, teachers’ unions and representatives from the school management committee.
However, except for some of the districts like Dang, where the prevalence of the pandemic is comparatively low, most of the districts are yet to start in-person study. The students from the Capital itself have been deprived of learning during the pandemic. Saroj Ghising, 6, who used to study in grade one in Hetauda, Makwanpur district, came to Bhaktapur with his parents in May. He is still cut off from his studies.
“We will get him enrolled once school resumes,” Sagar Ghising, his father, told the Post. He, however, is unaware when the schools resume nor does he know if there are any virtual learning platforms for his son. The government has reduced the prescribed study hours and curriculum at the school level for the current academic session by around 30 percent to cover the loss of time due to the pandemic.
Students from grade 1 to 3 will have 690 hours of classes in total while students from grades 4 to 10 will be 848 hours.
“The problem is our government comes up with different plans but doesn’t take needed steps towards its implementation,” said Raj Kumar Gandharwa, former chair of the National Campaign for Education. “I believe the study would be an eye opener for those in policy making.”