And the education continues to remain a causality

The education sector continues to remain a worst hit in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak across the globe, and has taken a toll on the academic career of students for want of the restoration of high speed 4G internet services.

The J&K government on March 12 ordered for suspension of classwork in all educational institution in wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak which claimed thousands of lives across the globe. Earlier, the educational institutions were already closed in other states as a preventive measure to contain the COVID-19 spread.

Soon after the suspension of the classwork and closure of the educational institutions for teaching staff, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) issued guidelines for the Vice Chancellors (VCs) to treat the teaching staff on duty and make them utilize their time for preparing e-content and lectures for the students.

The MHRD instructed the Universities and higher educational institutions to prepare online content and online teachings during the closure period.

The instructions were issued to avoid academic losses of the students pursuing higher educational courses. But guidelines are going down the drain given the non-availability of high speed 4G internet for students in J&K.

All the universities and colleges have prepared the e-content and video lectures and are uploaded on the university websites, but the students are not able to access the website given the 2g internet speed.

Also, the school teachers and college professors have started uploading video lectures on their YoutTube channel with an intention to benefit the students. But all the efforts made by the teaching faculty from schools to university level are bearing no fruits for the students. The YouTube channels and websites are literally out of bounds of students.

Already, the school education department has decided to introduce tele-classes for the students up to class 12th. The classes are telecast through local cable operators to compensate the academic loss to some extent.

However, the initiative to upload e-content and tutorial on university websites is not bearing any fruits. The Vice Chancellors of various universities in J&K admitted that their efforts for uploading e-content on the website was not helping the students in any way. The students are not even able to surf the university website not to talk of downloading e-content or watching video lectures.

There are around nine universities and over 100 government degree colleges in J&K with an enrollment of lakhs of students who are deprived of the high speed internet facilities which is however taken for granted in other states. Depriving the students of this basic facility has left the students in mental agony and is likely to cost dearly for the students, scholars and aspirants of various all India level competitive exams.

Not only the college and university students but the delay in restoration of 4G internet has adversely affected the scholars and other students preparing for various competitive exams likely to be conducted in coming months. The NEET-2020 UG exams and JEE national exams are likely to be held in May or June month which witnesses massive participation of students from J&K.

Also, the students preparing for competitive exams like NET, JEE and NEET had joined online coaching classes and would take lectures through YouTube channels and other means of online education. But the continuous suspension of 4G internet service has disturbed the students leaving them in state of despair.

Internet services, landline and mobile phones were snapped across Jammu and Kashmir on the eve of Centre’s announcement to scrap special status of the state on August 5, 2029. While the government restored mobile services and 2G internet facility in a phased manner, the restoration of the high speed internet continues to remain suspended for over 235 days now. Recently, the J&Ks home department decided to continue curbs on 4G  internet till April 03.

While in other states the students are mostly dependent on the online system of education, in J&K the government authorities are behaving like an ignorant lot by  continuing curbs on the high speed internet.

The curbs on 4G internet continue at a time when the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi envisioned transforming the nation and creating opportunities for all citizens by harnessing digital technologies through digital India initiative.

As part of Digital India project, many colleges and universities offer online correspondence courses but in J&K, the students and common masses are deprived of the facility for over eight months now.

Keeping in view the prevailing situation and the closure of educational institution which has the school academic calendar has resulted in shrinking of the academic calendar in J&K, It becomes imperative for the J&K government to lift the rubs on 4G internet services in the interest of students who are now mainly left dependent on the online mode of education.

Keeping in view the interest of the students, it is the need of the hour to restore the 4G internet services in J&K so that education doesn’t suffer. One hopes that good sense will prevail and J&K government will rethink over its decision for continuing curbs on 4G internet.