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Only 30 per cent students in Bagmati State, Nepal in access of information and technology

Problems have been surfaced in the course of conducting online classes even in Kathmandu as most of the parents have no smartphone, laptop, computer, internet facility, disturbance of electricity.
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By Prakash Silwal, KATHMANDU:-  Though the Ministry of Education is preparing to incorporate alternative learning methods into the school curriculum, only 30 percent of students are in access to information and technology means for alternative learning devices in Bagmati State.

With the shutdown of schools, colleges, and universities across the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the countries are adopting alternative e-learning via different electronic devices like radio, television, cell phones, and many more.

Meantime, Nepal is exercising to run the same alternative mechanism to conduct teaching-learning activities but it has been tough due to poor access to internet and electronic devices to students. The Bagmati State, with the federal capital, has also only limited access to 30 percent of students in it. The State Education Directorate Director Chandra Prasad Luintel shared that only 12 students in a total of 600 students were reported having cell phones in some schools. There are 35,601 schools across the country and the access of the students to the mobile phone is limited. Though 75 percent of people have access to the internet, 85 percent to the radio, and 72 percent to television in the country, the access of the students to these devices is nominal.

The number of cell phone users is 400 million in the country. According to statistics, there are 5,243 community schools and 2,145 private schools in the State but most of them have no access of cell phones. Luintel added that self- reading materials were published and distributed to students from grades 1 to 8 in the State. In a virtual program organized by the Community Schools Management Committee Federation, Director Luintel shared that poor connectivity and having no access of cell phones to students have created difficulties to run the classes; however, the alternative policy should be adopted between the students of having internet access and those not having internet access to continue the teaching-learning activities.

Issuing ‘Student Learning Facilitation Guideline 2077 through Alternative System’ on May 31, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology had asked the schools to implement it compulsorily from June 15 to give continuity to learning activities in an effective and systematic way through the alternative system. Curriculum Development Centre has been doing homework to give recognition to such learning of the current academic session as per the guideline.

Students, guardians, and students have not been found practical in such learning activities as learning through the alternative system have not got recognition so far while it has been suggested to allocate budget by local levels for free mobile set and internet facility to students having poor financial status. Problems have been surfaced in the course of conducting online classes even in Kathmandu as most of the parents have no smartphone, laptop, computer, internet facility, disturbance of electricity.

Schools have remained closed from March 24 due to lockdown imposed by the government. Educationist Dr. Bidyanath Koirala said that question has been raised about why to recruiting large number of teachers at a time when there is the access of minimum students in alternative systems. Analyst Tika Bhattarai argued that mobilization of teachers for the continuity of learning activities during such a difficult hour is very necessary.

Federation Chair Krishna Thapa said schools could not be opened immediately during this difficult situation, saying the local level and school management committee should be active to make the alternative teaching system effective.

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