In a letter to Basu, Students Federation of India (SFI) state unit secretary Srijon Bhattacharya and state president Pratikur Rahman also asked the state government to register its strong protest against the “conspiracy by the Centre to make online education mandatory for every student”.
“You have informed about postponing the secondary and higher secondary examinations due to the Covid-19 situation (and not cancellation). We also agree in principle that without evaluation, students cannot be allowed to qualify in the exams.
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“But you have to see that our candidates don’t lag behind in the overall evaluation and during future stages of their career. The fate of our candidates must be decided in conformity with the decision of other boards in the country about their examinees,” the letter read.
The organisation iterated its opposition to the UGC mooted “blended mode of learning” which suggests completion of 40 per cent of the curriculum through online mode, saying it should not be enforced in the state.
“For long, the Centre has been trying to thrust online way of learning and taking advantage of the Covid-19 situation, the New Education Policy has emphasised the need for online education. Though the West Bengal government had opposed the NEP last year, the opposition was weak and ambiguous. We want a more vocal and categorical protest,” the SFI said.
Highlighting that the SFI is not against the use of technology, the letter said, the reality is that a sizeable section of students does not have smartphones or tabs.
There are also problems like the cost of data pack and net connectivity in rural areas, for which too much dependence on online mode of education is not feasible, the letter read.
“The government should provide tabs and free internet service to all the students, not just the class 12 students. We dont think we should rely on the online mode of teaching without building this minimum infrastructure,” the SFI said.
Pointing out that there cannot be any alternative to classroom teaching, the students body said, “those who can take advantage of online can join the class sitting at home. But for those who cannot, the government should take steps so that they can come to the campus at least twice a week by following all Covid-19 safety protocols”.
Though the minister could not be reached for his response, Education Department sources said the suggestions will be looked into.