The Education Ministry ruled out the possibility of declaring 2020-21 as a “zero academic year” due to the Covid outbreak during a meeting Monday of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development, sources told The Indian Express.
Responding to queries from MPs about university admissions, exams and classes, Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare is learnt to have informed that first-year students are likely to join in November-December and that there will be facilities to conduct examinations and classes for those currently enrolled. In a zero year, there are no academic activities, including lessons or exams.
Monday’s meeting was called to discuss digital education initiatives in the wake of the shutdown imposed by the pandemic. Apart from Khare, School Education Secretary Anita Karwal and UGC chairman D P Singh were among those who attended the meeting with the panel headed by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe.
According to sources, the panel was informed about a survey of CBSE-affiliated schools, including Navodaya Vidyalayas and Kendriya Vidyalayas, which shows that 60 per cent of students, from Standard 1-12, had access to online classes. Another 30 per cent had limited access, which meant they were accessing it on community radio and TV channels, and the remaining 10% were not able to attend at all.
“A more exhaustive nation-wide survey of all schools is underway and will be presented later. The matter of reopening of schools and universities was not discussed. It’s evident to everyone that no one has any visibility of when the pandemic will end,” an MP said.
All education institutions have been closed since mid-March in a bid to control virus transmission, with educational institutions shut until at least August-end. “After the meeting, some officers indicated that whenever schools reopen, the government would want students of Class 11 and 12 to join first,” said another MP.
During the meeting, school officials informed members of the initiatives adopted by states to help students access online classes. The members are learnt to have suggested that schools be asked to use various media, such as community radio and district newspapers, for teaching. The MPs also suggested the creation of a question bank based on which students can be tested.
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