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Are online classes effective?

Nitish Lal Shrestha

September 9, 2020

9 MIN READ

Are online classes effective?
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Nepal’s education sector has faced unprecedented challenges with prolonged lockdown. However, it needs to adapt as well as find solutions to keep students motivated.

No sector is an exception in the country, in fact, globally. The education sector of Nepal currently has not been highlighted more as it comes under smaller interest.

The majority of the people’s concern currently is the health sector and the country’s economy. Nevertheless, the present state of education in Nepal shouldn’t be undermined. After all, today’s younger generation are future leaders.

In response to the closure of schools, the distance learning program, along with other educational applications and platforms that both the educational institutions and teachers can use to teach their students and learners remotely is being adopted all over the world.

This mechanism of teaching and learning might limit the disruptions of education and be a very effective crisis management strategy.

Following this, various schools and colleges in Nepal have started virtual/online classes via applications such as ‘Zoom’, ‘Google Meeting’, ‘Skype’, among others.

Virtual learning is a very effective medium to continue education or learning during the lockdown, and hasn’t been able to facilitate and benefit students from all backgrounds i.e. minorities, poor’s, belonging to a certain sex, ethnicity, or students from rural places.

There are of course many benefits of adopting virtual/online classes; students’ education has not been hampered, the layoff of teachers does not occur, parents are happy their children are still able to study and the growth of the nation’s future leaders has not been halted.

However, have online classes actually benefited students and teachers? Or has online class made it easier for students to slack off?

Have teachers been able to teach efficiently? There are a lot of questions that nobody is asking regarding the current educational situation.

Parents are the ones who usually question the school regarding their practices, but queries, questions and complaints from parents have not been witnessed.

Merely conducting online classes might not be enough to shape our future leaders, monitoring their attention, performance and teachers’ practices is extremely essential.

Another important question that needs to be addressed by schools and colleges lies: Students pay school fee that is usually inclusive of all the resources they will be able to utilize.

But if students have not been able to use those facilities and resources currently due to the lockdown, is it ethical for schools and colleges to make students pay the same amount of school fees even while in lockdown?

Schools have been able to save costs of electricity, water, library, meals (if provided by the school), cleanliness and wages for certain employees.

The cost is significantly low when schools do not have to pay for all these utilities so is it just that students that pay the entire school fee when they are not able to enjoy all the facilities that should be included?

To know the actual scenario of school fees, we randomly asked different schools and colleges from the Kathmandu Valley regarding their new fee structure after the lockdown and relief they are providing to the suffered ones.

The majority of the schools and colleges were found to charge a full fee without deducting the annual fee and charges for extra services which are never used by the students.

Although, they have asked parents to pay only the amount they are comfortable paying, the condition for payment of the rest of the due is still uncertain.

However, some of the educational institutions are only charging the tuition fees considering the real situation. We know the educational institutions are suffering equal loss as other sectors due to Covid-19, but is it fair for them to expect profit at this very time?

Similarly, the said strategy of an online class is not sufficient for Nepal as the technology and infrastructure required for distance learning or virtual learning are not available or within the access of all the students.

Conducting online classes has been implemented mostly by private institutions and rarely by the government educational institutions.

While private schools and colleges have tried to do something to ensure educational reach the government’s effort has been extremely limited.

As education systems cope with this crisis, their thinking should focus on how they can recover stronger, with a renewed sense of responsibility and assuring that all children have the same chances for quality education.

The online classes as an alternative are being adopted only in few private educational institutions. Now, what about the students who study in government schools and all the educational institutions that have not been able to adopt the virtual learning system?

There are high chances of a rise in educational disparity due to unequal deliberation of education.

Virtual learning is a very effective medium to continue education or learning during the lockdown, and hasn’t been able to facilitate and benefit students from all backgrounds i.e. minorities, poor’s, belonging to a certain sex, ethnicity, or students from rural places.

Many students are not used to learning online while many may have heard about various useful applications like Zoom, Google Meet, and Skype only because of the pandemic while many may have never heard about it.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has urged schools and colleges to adopt alternative learning sessions as the reopening of educational institutions is still uncertain.

However, the problem of the unavailability of resources to conduct alternative learning sessions has not been addressed by the ministry.

Similarly, the government plan to overcome the loss of unprivileged groups of students is still unknown. Even in Kathmandu Valley, numerous educational institutions are not capable of adopting alternative learning practices.

As the lockdown has led to an economic crisis in the country, the majority of the parents and guardians cannot purchase the required resources for online classes such as a laptop or smartphones for their children.

As a result, only privileged groups of people are privileged with the said teaching-learning practices.

Similarly, as digital learning is the only option left, the educational institutions must work on making most out of it.

Educational institutions must emphasize on taking suggestions from the students and their parents to make online classes more effective.

The issue of teachers’ salaries should be immediately addressed by the government. The hard work and dedication that teachers have put on initiating online classes are praiseworthy.

Teachers should make sure all students are on the line and are getting things that they are teaching. Various productive assignments should be assigned to the students through which the teachers can evaluate their amount of understanding.

This will be a challenging job for all teachers. As education systems cope with this crisis, their thinking should focus on how they can recover stronger, with a renewed sense of responsibility and assuring that all children have the same chances for quality education.

As mentioned earlier, charging a considerate amount of education fees is a must but, educational institutions must not expect making a profit during this critical period.

The issue of teachers’ salaries should be immediately addressed by the government. The hard work and dedication that teachers have put on initiating online classes are praiseworthy.

Hence, along with the students, even the demand and voice of the teachers should be heard and addressed on common ground.

So, what next? We all know that education is every individual’s primary right, hence the government must make sure no one is deprived of this right.

In this terrorized time of crisis, a versatile and effective educational practice is what is required for the capacity-building of young minds. The hope is still alive that the government will take this hand in hand with other essential programs.

The question lies in: Will the concerned government authority put their eyes on the current status of education and step on emphasizing and developing the current system? Time will say.

(With inputs from Jiya Shrestha)

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