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Colleges reopening only in phases, students will get to opt for study from home

India may open thousands of its colleges and universities in a phased manner and give millions of students in higher educational institutions a choice whether to come to classes or study from home online.

Education authorities and regulators believe that flexibility will be key and initially students and staff may be allowed to come to campuses for laboratory work, Research and Development (R&D) activities and practical classes. This may be followed by normal classroom learning for smaller batch sizes, at least two government official said, requesting anonymity.

“We have to remain flexible for the current academic year. Proper planning, physical and safety guidelines and a phased opening of campuses seem to be a prudent idea to take forward,” said one of the two officials cited above.

“Practical classes, lab work and R&D activities need a lot of rigour, and cannot be done online effectively. When the situation is a bit under control, they are likely to be the first set of campus activities to kick off,” said the second official.

India’s education sector, closed since Mid-march to curb the spread of infectious covid-19, has undergone serious disruptions in its academic, administrative and financial transactions during the last four months.

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While the end semester or final year exams continues to a problem for some universities, authorities have said that examinations should be completed before end September for a smooth beginning of new academic year at universities.

Professional schools including management and engineering colleges are already doing online classes and may start new academic year online in August.

“When the universities open their campuses – they need to plan well and we will offer the required standard operating procedures (SoPs). After the practical and lab activities for weeks, some more students may be allowed to attend classes in the campuses, and others study from home. Students should have the option to study online from home as well with due support from their institutions,” the first official argued.

Experts and education service providers feel that 2020-21 will see predominantly online classes.

“Safety of students and staff are of paramount importance and cannot be compromised in the current situation. I think, education providers and regulators will have to think about a time period from now till April and devise ways on how to deal with it. I don’t see this problem as a five-year problem but of the current academic year,” said Aditya Berlia, chairman of the Delhi chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), and joint secretary of Apeejay Education Society that promotes a chain of schools and colleges.

India is home to over 50,000 higher educational institutions including over 990 universities catering to at least 37 million students.

Courtesy: livemint

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