While the Victers classes are available on a portal as well, the state has also used the social media website, Facebook, and video-hosting website, YouTube, to expand reach.
States would do well to take a leaf from Kerala’s book on online and on-air education for government-school students at a time when Covid-19 seems to have made normal classroom teaching impossible for, at the very least, rest of the year. The Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE), an SPV launched by the state government in 2017, had rolled out ICT-enabled education from Class VIII to XII in 2018; last academic year, this was rolled out for primary schools as well. Armed with that experience, the state has now piloted online and on-air learning (via the KITE Victers channel). Nearly 2.6 lakh of the 43 lakh children in schools in the state were estimated to have no access to television with cable and phones or computers with internet. With support from civil society organisations, teachers’ unions, industry and politicians—apart from funds allocated by the state government—anganwadis, libraries, study centres, etc, have been now fitted with 20,000 television sets that can be accessed by 2.42 lakh students from the pool of those who don’t have televisions/computers at home.
While the Victers classes are available on a portal as well, the state has also used the social media website, Facebook, and video-hosting website, YouTube, to expand reach. Primary school students will be attending half an hour of online classes every day, while Class VIII and IX will attend one hour of classes, Class X one-and-a-half-hour classes and Class XI and XII two hours. The state has instructed teachers to visit students from tribal communities and in hard-to-reach areas once a week so that they can watch the videos and don’t fall behind. Even though the state government has maintained that the online/on-air classes are just supplementary to traditional school education, it is still uncertain when classes can resume normally or even with restrictions. The state has recorded a phenomenal response, with nearly 10 lakh subscribers to the YouTube channel and over 16 lakh app downloads from Google Playstore. Zila parishad schools in Pune are also planning to offer students similar online teaching content. States will need to plan for adapting online teaching as closely to the real deal as possible so that education is not held hostage by Covid-19.