And the education continues to remain a causality
The education sector continues to remain a worsthit in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak acrossthe globe, and has taken a toll on the academic career of students for want ofthe restoration of high speed 4G internet services.
The J&K government on March 12 ordered forsuspension of classwork in all educational institution in wake of theCoronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak which claimed thousands of lives across theglobe. Earlier, the educational institutions were already closed in otherstates as a preventive measure to contain the COVID-19 spread.
Soon after the suspension of the classworkand closure of the educational institutions for teaching staff, the Ministry ofHuman Resource Development (MHRD) issued guidelines for the Vice Chancellors(VCs) to treat the teaching staff on duty and make them utilize their time forpreparing e-content and lectures for the students.
The MHRD instructed the Universities andhigher educational institutions to prepare online content and online teachingsduring the closure period.
The instructions were issued to avoidacademic losses of the students pursuing higher educational courses. Butguidelines are going down the drain given the non-availability of high speed 4Ginternet for students in J&K.
All the universities and colleges haveprepared the e-content and video lectures and are uploaded on the universitywebsites, but the students are not able to access the website given the 2ginternet speed.
Also, the school teachers and collegeprofessors have started uploading video lectures on their YoutTube channel withan intention to benefit the students. But all the efforts made by the teachingfaculty from schools to university level are bearing no fruits for thestudents. The YouTube channels and websites are literally out of bounds ofstudents.
Already, the school education departmenthas decided to introduce tele-classes for the students up to class 12th. Theclasses are telecast through local cable operators to compensate the academicloss to some extent.
However, the initiative to upload e-contentand tutorial on university websites is not bearing any fruits. The ViceChancellors of various universities in J&K admitted that their efforts foruploading e-content on the website was not helping the students in any way. Thestudents are not even able to surf the university website not to talk ofdownloading e-content or watching video lectures.
There are around nine universities and over100 government degree colleges in J&K with an enrollment of lakhs ofstudents who are deprived of the high speed internet facilities which ishowever taken for granted in other states. Depriving the students of this basicfacility has left the students in mental agony and is likely to cost dearly forthe students, scholars and aspirants of various all India level competitiveexams.
Not only the college and universitystudents but the delay in restoration of 4G internet has adversely affected thescholars and other students preparing for various competitive exams likely tobe conducted in coming months. The NEET-2020 UG exams and JEE national examsare likely to be held in May or June month which witnesses massiveparticipation of students from J&K.
Also, the students preparing forcompetitive exams like NET, JEE and NEET had joined online coaching classes andwould take lectures through YouTube channels and other means of onlineeducation. But the continuous suspension of 4G internet service has disturbedthe students leaving them in state of despair.
Internet services, landline and mobilephones were snapped across Jammu and Kashmir on the eve of Centre'sannouncement to scrap special status of the state on August 5, 2029. While thegovernment restored mobile services and 2G internet facility in a phasedmanner, the restoration of the high speed internet continues to remainsuspended for over 235 days now. Recently, the J&Ks home department decidedto continue curbs on 4G internet till April 03.
While in other states the students aremostly dependent on the online system of education, in J&K the governmentauthorities are behaving like an ignorant lot by continuing curbs on the high speed internet.
The curbs on 4G internet continue at a timewhen the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi envisioned transforming thenation and creating opportunities for all citizens by harnessing digitaltechnologies through digital India initiative.
As part of Digital India project, manycolleges and universities offer online correspondence courses but in J&K,the students and common masses are deprived of the facility for over eightmonths now.
Keeping in view the prevailing situationand the closure of educational institution which has the school academiccalendar has resulted in shrinking of the academic calendar in J&K, Itbecomes imperative for the J&K government to lift the rubs on 4G internetservices in the interest of students who are now mainly left dependent on theonline mode of education.
Keeping in view the interest of thestudents, it is the need of the hour to restore the 4G internet services inJ&K so that education doesn't suffer. One hopes that good sense willprevail and J&K government will rethink over its decision for continuingcurbs on 4G internet.