COVID-19 related lockdown has brought education to a halt in government schools. (Representational image)
Hyderabad: Private schools are battling demands to cancel online classes and cut the fee, but the Covid-19 related lockdown has brought education to a halt in government schools. Government schools have 55 lakh students as per data of 2017.
Among the challenges, one that stands out the most for government schools is the lack of infrastructure for online classes in rural areas, as was suggested in a survey conducted by the Telangana State United Teachers' Federation (TSUTF) last month, covering 1,868 villages in 489 mandals in all 33 districts.
The survey said that 39.6 per cent of families did not have smartphones and 14.8 per cent did not have a cable TV connection for children to watch lessons on government educational channels. Only 36 per cent of schools had TV sets, but they are not in a usable condition in 10.4 per cent of schools.
The government says it is ready to implement infrastructure to accommodate online education for students without proper internet services, but headmasters feel otherwise.
Rajasekhar Gaddam, gazetted headmaster of a Zilla Parishad High School in Khammam district, said, "The facilities developed by the school education department are not up to the mark. There are inconsistencies in service to schools in different districts. There is not enough electricity supply in the rural areas and the availability of just one TV set in each school makes it difficult to accommodate 100-200 students at one time."
Another problem is the lack of training for teachers. R. Sharada, incharge headmistress of the Government Girls High School in Masab Tank, said, Most private school teachers have easy access to the internet and a computer. Teachers in rural areas have had no exposure to the technology."
Parents of students, especially in the rural areas, are demanding that regular classes be started, citing the lower spread of the virus in their areas. A major reason for this is access to mid-day meals for children. Daily wage earners who lost their jobs during the lockdown can barely manage a meal per day, said Sharada.
Sadanand Singaraju, headmaster of a ZP high school in Warangal Rural district, said, "The government should aim at providing facilities in areas where it is possible to do so immediately. A community teaching facility can be set up for a small village of 50-60 families."