Updated: June 17, 2020 10:02:51 am
A group of teachers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi have pitched for higher education institutions to induct new students in January 2021 and put off face-to-face classes for a year in a proposal submitted to the HRD Minister this month.
The declaration of the coming autumn semester as a ‘zero semester’, the proposal states, would give institutions the time to “complete the formalities” for the current semester/academic year, which was upended by the Covid-19 outbreak, and upgrade their infrastructure for online teaching.
As for the lost academic time, the teachers assure it can be made up “within twelve to eighteen months of the end of the crisis”.
“This may be achieved through a combination of, the judicious use of existing online resources (such as NPTEL and Ekalavya), moving partly to the flipped mode of instruction, reduction of vacation periods, creating online resources for primary school students etc,” states the proposal accessed by The Indian Express.
Among the signatories to the proposal is Nalin Pant, a professor at the department of chemistry at IIT-Delhi, who is also a member of the institute’s Board of Governors. He confirmed to this newspaper that the document was sent to the HRD minister this month and also submitted to the IIT Council for consideration, through the institute’s director.
The suggestion for the six-month delay has been justified on the ground that the return of students to the classrooms can put the teachers, their parents, and grandparents at risk. “Given the typical arrangements in classrooms and hostels, students are likely to be super-spreaders and even if they are not in the vulnerable group, they can easily spread the virus among those who are vulnerable (e.g. teachers, parents, grandparents etc.),” the document reads.
The group has also argued that the time till January 2021 should be utilised by the higher education institutions to “come together to pool resources and develop strategies for optimal online delivery and evaluation”.
“The emphasis should be on ensuring that students in remote areas and poor connectivity are not left behind. For instance, such students could be asked to visit the nearest educational institution for online examinations. Central institutions like IITs, IISERs, Delhi Univ. etc should take the lead in this,” the proposal states.
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