Schools in Taplejung prepare to run classes by adopting health and safety measuresOnline classes have failed to take off in villages due to the lack of internet coverage and radio and TV-based teaching are not working, educators say.
Most of the schools in Taplejung have decided to resume classes since online classes have failed to take off in the rural areas of the district given the absence of internet coverage. Educators say that even though the authorities had initiated radio and TV programmes to reach out to the students in rural areas, running classes through the medium have proved to be ineffective.
During the lockdown period, most schools were running classes in small groups by deploying teachers to settlements and even conducting one-on-one personal tutoring. But they were asked to discontinue these alternative classes in light of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. On August 12, the District Administration Office in Taplejung notified schools to stop all forms of alternative teaching and learning programmes.
Sinam Secondary School in Ward No. 1 of Sirijangha Rural Municipality, which was conducting classes in 12 settlements, discontinued the classes following the directive of the local administration.
The government has now handed over the decision-making authority regarding school resumption to the local units.
“We had to stop the classes that were run in 12 settlements from mid-June to the first week of August,” said Mahendra Prakash Gautam, headmaster of Sinam Secondary School. “Now we’ve decided to resume the classes with permission from the local government. In fact, we will be taking the classes to 25 settlements from now on. If we don’t do that, the students will lose an entire academic year. ”
According to Gautam, they will teach a group of 50 students from each settlement from Sunday and all health and safety measures will be adopted while conducting the classes.
Meanwhile, Saraswati Secondary School in Hangpang of Aathrai Tribeni Rural Municipality plans to conduct classes in the school building itself with a limited number of students.
“We will start classes from Sunday. The students will be called to the school according to their class schedule,” said Laxmi Pokharel, headmaster of the school. “We have fixed classes on the basis of the settlements. The students of one settlement can take classes once every three days. Teachers will provide assignments to the students for two days. This will minimise the risk of spread of the virus.”
According to Pokharel, the school management has already informed parents and students about the class schedule. The school plans to take in only 15 to 20 students per class.
Little Buddha English Boarding School in Phungling is also preparing to resume classes by limiting the number of students and teaching hours.
“Classes taken from radio and television are not effective here. We have consulted with the parents. They have advised us to start classes even if it’s for a few hours,” Yubara Giri, the school’s headmaster, said.
Chhatrapati Pyakurel, chief at Phungling Municipality, said the decision to run classes is entirely up to the school and to send wards to school is up to the parents.
“Schools and parents can take the decision independently. The municipality is not going to direct the schools to run the classes, nor is it going to ask the parent to send their children to school,” he said. “We have asked the schools to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved if they decide to run the classes.”
There are a total of 379 government and private schools in Taplejung.