Week of critical analysis on online learning

Kathmandu -  This week the coverage on education remained very low. Multiple opinion articles and letters were dedicated to online classes and mostly being critical about its practicality for students all over Nepal. There were multiple international news related to education and COVID-19 response as well.

Abbreviations: MoEST- Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, KD-Kantipur Daily, THT-  The Himalayan Times, SEE- Secondary Education Examination , TU- Tribhuvan University, KU-Kathmandu University, NOU- Nepal Open University, MoD-Ministry of Defense

-    Tens of thousands of students returned to school in Shanghai and Beijing today after months of closures intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as China’s major cities gradually return to normality. But the students found life is still far from normal, with smaller classes, temperature checks, strict social distancing, and no physical education sessions.

-    An opinion article discussed about the limitation, obligation and curios interest among students and the society about online education. The writer states that the technological access and the procedure to prevent health consequence of regular online classes should be considered. The writer urges schools to consider the physical reality and conditions of students to evaluate the possibility to participate in regular online classes. The writer considers the possibility of further digital divide in the society if this condition in not fairly recognized while planning steps ahead for online learning. Another opinion article also discussed about the practicality of online classes and highlighted to be aware of possible misuse of internet access among school students. Experts stated that access to learning should be ensured through multiple medium from radio, television, mobile and internet services. The article also discussed about private schools calming online classes through nominal and insufficient preparation and calling in parents to admit and start paying school fees. 

The nature of private institution has again claimed its character, as private institutions, private schools are established for profit and therefore has primary goal to gain back all investment, thus, such stress and priority on admission and monthly fees have remained the priority among private schools. This could be an opportunity for public schools to prove its relevance if public schools are well supported by government to recover better and communicate accordingly.

-    An Australian university has declared to support foreign students financially by providing support or loan ranging from $250 to $2000 each as relief in uncertain financial situation due to the crisis caused by Lockdown. Delhi government has also called on all citizens to spare the monthly rent of students and labors for the month. An international news about ‘Fuse machines’ an Artificial Intelligence(AI) based company’s announcement of online courses of AI technology also made it in the media this week.

The discussion on online learning or distance medium learning has failed to consider the possibility for students willing to continue on schooling through these mediums, or of students who are out of access of regular schools who could join through these home schooling procedures long after the lockdown is over. This approach has been a reality in many nations around the world. Even in Nepal there has been provision for distance learning at school level for a while now but has never been seriously worked on to make its existence felt in this crisis. The collaboration between local agencies like school management, teachers and parents union, media houses, civil society organizations and local government, could help build a needed coalition to plan and execute programs to ensure access to learning from home. This coalition can go beyond disseminating educational content to students towards also engaging schools and student as content producers in future as a method of effective contextual learning.

'Education this Week' is a joint effort put to analyze the press coverage of education in Nepal’s selected print media published in Kathmandu. The main aim of this effort is to identify and explain major education issues picked up by the media and give back and foreground of the news. This, we believe, will help policy makers and other responsible people to keep abreast with ongoing concerns and discussions on and around education. EduKhabar, in collaboration with the Center for Educational Policies and Practices (CEPP) , has produced this analysis based on the news printed in Kantipur (Nepali) and The Himalayan Times (English), Dailies between April 22-28, 2020 (Baisakh10-16, 2077) - Editor.

Read last week’s analysis: Focus the most vulnerable when planning for innovative approach to Education

Read this analysis in Nepali : अनलाइन शिक्षामा आलोचनात्मक विश्लेषणको हप्ता

All analysis read by this link : Education This week