Full online classes will begin in all public schools by Monday even though thousands of children are still without devices or school books.
Stephanie Mohammed from Cunjal Road, Barrackpore, whose three children are expected to start the First Year, Second Year and Standard Three classes said they have no devices or textbooks.
“I am very worried about whether my children will cope with classes. They attend the Cunjal Road Government School and tomorrow we are going to see whether we could get some of their books. Things have been tough at home so I am praying they will not be left behind,” Mohammed said.
The family has an internet connection but only one phone which Mohammed said she will use for the three of them.
“The teacher said she will Whatsapp the schoolwork but I have to print it. The other work will be done on their textbooks once I could buy it,” she added.
Meanwhile, general secretary of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) said he has been procuring devices for the Standard Five children in all SDMS schools. He said there are 1,788 Standard Five pupils and only 30 per cent of them have devices.
“When we were told that school was reopening on 1st September for online I contacted as many people as I knew for donations and I purchased 150 Amazon 7 tablets. There were more than $400. I ask schools to give me the numbers for Standard Five students who do not have devices but has connectivity and we will be charging them $250 for the tablets. We will be absorbing 35-40 per cent of the cost,” Maharaj said.
He noted, “We sent out a data sheet to all principals asking for those with no devices and those who have connectivity because it makes no sense in giving them anything if they have no connectivity.”
Noting there was a shortage of devices globally, Maharaj said they will continue to procure Amazon 8 tablets with 32 gigs which are selling for $92 US.
“I need 350 to satisfy the rest of the children who have connectivity and I want to thank our sponsors who are assisting,” Maharaj said.
Meanwhile, the ASJA Girls Alumnae is also continuing a fundraising drive to buy devices for students. So far 12 devices have been donated and five more will be donated soon, once the funds can be raised.
Some schools have already rolled out timetables for pupils and organised drop boxes for parents whose children have no devices. At Mohess Road Hindu School printed materials have already been provided.
Recently Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsy-Dolly said the Teacher Education Performance and Professional Development Division of the Ministry of Education has been doing training sessions with teachers.
“Syllabus Heads and Administrators were encouraged to apply or do upskilling through other avenues. Deans/School-Based Management Team (SBMT) / School-Based Intervention Team (SBIT) and members of the Student Support Services Division (SSSD) were expected to work closely together to manage and address new issues and challenges that students may present with having been at home for an extended period. Sessions must be organised to assist parents in coping with the changing school environment.
The new school term runs from September 1 to December 11. Anyone wanting to assist Stephanie Mohammed and her children can contact her at 360-4373.