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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Gujarat: Over 10-fold increase in higher education institutions conducting online classes

From 11 non-technical government colleges that started online classes in the first week of July, 104 out of the total 109 are now conducting online classes.

Written by Ritu Sharma | Ahmedabad | August 17, 2020 12:51:42 am
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Higher education institutions in the state seem to have overcome their initial resistance, with over a 10-fold increase being observed in government colleges and grant-in-aid (GIA) colleges offering online classes and students attending them across Gujarat, within a month of their launch in July.

From 11 non-technical government colleges that started online classes in the first week of July, 104 out of the total 109 are now conducting online classes. Similarly, from 39 GIA colleges in the first week of July, there are now 246 GIA colleges with nearly 80,000 students tuning in to online classes across the state.

The state education department launched online academic work for all government and GIA technical and non-technical colleges in Gujarat on June 22 under its project Unlimited Digital Advanced Yearlong Academic Method of learning (UDYAM) due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“A dedicated team prepares the programme under UDAYAM. There has been massive improvement as institutions have realised that they have to implement online classes or else they will lose on important academic days,” said Principal Secretary (Education) Anju Sharma.

Out of the 50 registered government technical institutes in Gujarat, 42 have joined online classes with 22,468 students and 1,438 faculty members. Laboratory work is also being conducted online with 1,460 laboratory sessions being conducted by 42 technical institutes in a day.

“Online lab work is done for branches such as computer, Information Technology (IT), mechanical engineering and electrical engineering through computer-simulated softwares, which enables students to perform practicals, too,” said a faculty member of LD Engineering College in Ahmedabad.

Out of 109 non-technical government colleges, 104 are conducting online classes with over 20,000 students and 1,000 faculty members as of August 7. Out of 357 GIA institutes, nearly 250 have joined online classes with 2,740 faculty members.

There is a considerable spike in the number of students opting for online classes as well, with the numbers going up in government technical colleges from 19,000 in the first week of July to over 22,000 by now. Similarly, the initial figure of 411 students from 11 government non-technical colleges has now reached over 20,000 students. The tally of over 6,700 students from 39 GIA higher education institutes has now reached nearly 80,000.

However, there are colleges that are yet to adapt to online classes. “Reasons shared by these institutes are both hardware and software related as well as the faculty’s inhibition towards technology. We have been organising training sessions and hand-holding through buddy college scheme,” Anju Sharma added.

The state has over 100 non-technical GIA colleges, with the highest in Ahmedabad (22), Rajkot (13), Surendranagar (10) and Mehsana (6).

Government technical colleges that are yet to take to online classes are in the remote areas of Aravalli, Bharuch, Dahod, Junagadh, Patan, Surendranagar and Bhavnagar districts, along with government non-technical colleges in Aravalli, Dahod, Kutch, Narmada and Surat districts. For a large number of students failing to take online lessons, the reasons cited are poor connectivity and non-affordability of data plans.

“Internet coverage issues in remote areas is among the complaints we have received from students. Others, especially students of government colleges, have also shared issues like non-affordability of data plans and a spare mobile or laptop,” said Joint Commissioner (Higher Education) NN Madhu. The official added that for such students, recorded classes are shared through WhatsApp and YouTube.

As of August 7, out of 40,757 registered students, over 22,400 took online classes from 50 government technical institutes. Out of 50,227 registered students from 109 higher education colleges, 20,118 have taken online classes. Out of 1,88,350 registered students from 357 GIA colleges, 79,300 accessed online classes.

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