Kathmandu, April 30, 2020
The Pokhara Metropolitan City has instructed schools within its area to discontinue online classrooms until they acquire permission and build infrastructure.
Due to the nationwide lockdown and outbreak of COVID-19, the education sector has been on hold for a while now. Most schools and colleges in Nepal have started online classes to make sure students are not deprived of basic education.
Meanwhile, the education department of Pokhara Metropolis has instructed against conducting online classes without proper infrastructure. The official notice released mentions that the schools had started conducting online classes without the necessary guidelines and infrastructure.
“The schools have not taken permission and there is no infrastructure. Mental stress should not be given to young students in the name of online classes,” says Chief of the Pokhara Metropolitan Education Branch, Ganga Bahadur Gurung.
Moreover, he claims that the lack of infrastructure and guidelines is putting mental stress over knowledge on the students. He goes on to clarify that this restriction is for classes below Class 9. He said that there was no restriction in the case of SEE and higher-level classes.
“Even though it is a metropolis, most of the students have now returned to the village. Not everyone has access to the internet,” he added. “Are the online classes paid or free? We have asked them to open up thoroughly about the process and take permission from the municipal office.”
What do experts say?
Ramesh Rimal, General Secretary at Computer Faculty Association of Nepal (CFAN) says, ”The decision from the Pokhara Municipal Office seems like it has been done in a rush. Few points from the notice may be true but this decision feels like a step backward.”
He says that a crisis not only creates problems but also creates opportunities for new ideas and development. So, people should take the current crisis as an opportunity to develop digital learning.
“It is a fact that all areas don’t have the necessary infrastructure and resources. But, it is not an excuse or reason to step back in the path of development. Instead, authorities should address the lack of resources and expand infrastructure to tackle the challenges,” he adds.
He believes that such a step coming from an upper-level department is very unfortunate. Moreover, he suggests seeking expertise from ICT experts in order to address the challenges and move forward with online education.
Similarly, Dr. Rajib Subba – DIG, Nepal Police, also went on to Facebook by sharing the notice. He feels that proper discussions should’ve been held before putting the education of thousands of students at risk.
The notice reflects on the digital divide that online education can ignite on a large scale. People feel that our lifestyles are on the verge of a change. And, we need to take this challenging situation as an opportunity to develop suitable technology.
People are concerned that such negligence may leave us unprepared for the next pandemic or crisis.
Here is the official notice from the Pokhara Municipal Office
What do you think about this decision from the Pokhara Municipal Office? Let us know in the comments!