The year 2020 has swept the entire world in a whirlwind, swiftly changing lives and age-old methods of education in the country and the world owing to the disastrous pandemic that has the world, mobile and unable to continue normal procedures. With the onset of the pandemic in India, the government had ordered schools, colleges and educational institutes to close campuses and switch to online modes of education in a bid to control the spread of the deadly virus, COVID 19.

The concept of online classes has now become the new normal for education for a while. With that in mind, Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel, on Saturday, demanded a task force to be constituted that will provide a guideline for conducting online classes while the government focuses on aiding the weaker section of the society with the facility to have the access. 

“We demand from the government to constitute a task force to study how online classes are putting severe mental stress on students as well as their families. The central government should come out with national guidelines after consulting states as to what should be the rules under which online classes be held. Rather than changing education syllabus, the central government must increase spending to provide digital support for poor students, he said at the Zero Hour at the Saturday monsoon parliament session. 

The Congress MP has pointed out that public and private schools are justifying the fact that they are still collecting fees, sometimes, by conducting online classes. “This is creating an immense mental and financial burden on economically backward families. In poor homes, either they don’t have a laptop or computer and if they do have a smartphone, it is usually shared by many family members. Digital India should not become an instrument for the ‘digital divide’ between the rich and poor,” he said.

He pointed out that several students in Gujarat, Delhi, Kerala, and Bengal, have taken their lives because of the stress of online classes.  He pointed out survey citing that only 24 per cent have access to computers and 9 per cent have to the internet, 3 per cent in Gujarat have laptops and PCs and 4 per cent with smartphones with unlimited data plans. A survey by the Delhi government indicated that 80 per cent houses do not have any laptop or computers, while a Telangana survey showed that online classes failed to impact 70 per cent students. 

He pointed out that while the government has connected only 23,000 villages with broadband connectivity when the promise was to 2.5 lakh village panchayats by 2017. He also said that the concept online classes are a lot worse in places like Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha than Goa, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh. The situation is likely to worsen and the government needs to take steps to salvage the damage beforehand.