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Tabs with pre-loaded teaching for Naga students; aim to do away with poor internet link


GUWAHATI: India’s third most backward district, Kiphire in Nagaland, has launched free mobile tablets to all students in government schools between Classes 8 and 12 when students in several other districts in the northeast are being forced to climb hills to reach a convenient location for online education.

The effort from the Nagaland government is to give a push to digital education even without the internet. As offline classes have remained suspended for the pandemic, the digital contents prepared with the latest audio-visual pedagogy can be accessed at home. Government officials said remote districts of the state like Noklak will also be covered soon under the policy.

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The experiments to switch over to impart lessons through preloaded educational contents in tablets began at Government Higher Secondary School, Pungro, located about 50 km from the district headquarter of Kiphire, just before the second wave of the pandemic hit the country. Nagaland has a little over 4,000 active cases but Covid-19 did not spare this frontier state. Vast parts of the state still remain cut-off from the rest of the country due to remoteness.
It’s been almost two months that the schools have been closed in Kiphire. Students dream that one day there would be electricity and internet connection even in the far flung areas of this mineral-rich district. Educators struggle to join Google and Zoom meetings because of the connectivity issue.

“Online classes sound very modern, but here in Pungro, students roam around the streets and climb hills in search of a network. So we welcome the scheme of offering pre-loaded teaching in mobile tablets. Despite being far away from mainland India, we are aware of the reports of a possible third wave,” Anil Kumar, a teacher at the Pungro School, told TOI on Saturday.

Educators and students living in remote locations ringed by hills, have been struggling to get internet access. The Saramati range of mountains, lying along the India-Myanmar border, under Pungro subdivision, is a feast for the eyes of tourists. But this scenic beauty has become a barrier in the age of the internet, especially during the lockdown.

“Pre-loaded tablets are more beneficial than live online classes. We failed to join online live meetings due to poor internet connectivity,” said Kumar. “Except for stormy days, electricity connection is not a problem but internet connection is a hurdle,” Kumar added.

The Nagaland Education Mission Society (NEMS), under the Samagra Shiksha Nagaland, this week launched the scheme virtually to provide tablets for Class 8-12 students in the aspirational district of Kiphire. In the first phase tablets for 1,097 students will be distributed in Classes 8-10.

“After the virtual launch, we will hand over the tablets to students within the next couple of weeks. Even if the third wave of Covid-19 hits, they will be able to go through the digital classes without the internet. The curriculum has been designed for all subjects,” said Deenbandhu Panda, district education officer, Kiphire.

He is hopeful that providing tablets to all students is an ambitious target, though not impossible. “For 15 schools, we got the funds from one Rural Electric Corporation, New Delhi, to execute the digital classes. With more Corporate Social Responsibility funds, hopefully, Kiphire will set an example of quality digital education for areas where the internet for all may not be possible soon,” he added.

Except for Class 10, academic sessions for lower classes end in December in Nagaland. “Whatever contents they need to study till December, will be there in the tablets,” Panda said.





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