Coronavirus Pandemic

Online classes offer little help to higher edn


As compelling situation triggered by coronavirus pandemic has forced higher educational institutions to introduce online classes, a large number of students are bereft of formal education through online platforms due to prevalence of a host of technological barriers.

Mostof the private universities but meagre public universities have started online classes, with a large segment of students failing to have access to internet facilities and other digital facilities across the country and that has thrown young leaners into uncertainty, say academics.

At the same time, online education process using various multi-platforms is not seen by a host of teachers and students as a welcome option to overcome the ongoing bizarre period, they said.

Though, online classes have just started in public universities, students are yet to adapt to technical capacity and overcome internet barriers.

Professor Abdul Mannan, former chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), said, ‘Online classes are a new experience for us. Many are doing as much as they can afford. But not everyone can do that.”

Especially those older teachers have to learn anew. However, the students of the colleges affiliated to the National University are lagging behind. They should also come forward in this regard, he cited.

Talking to The Bangladesh Post, a private university student Mitul Rahman said, “Online classes are easy to attend with a handy smartphone, much more interactive. It’s our firsttimeexperience for such classes, we find no difficulty.”

Most of the private universities, excepting a few
are running online classes. However, the students of the colleges affiliated to the National University are at the end of the tunnel as their online classes have not yet started.

Talking to The Bangladesh Post, Daffodil International University’s head of Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Associate Professor Dr. Sheikh Shafiul Islam underscored that, “Realizing the uncertainty of students’ academic future to keep up the flow of higher education we introduced online class via Google Meet where students found all the reading materials and guidelines on how to use them.”

“I am glad that the teachers and students have tackled the initial challenges quite successfully for online classes. At this time, we have emphasized on continuing the educational activities while maintaining the quality of education,” he said.

The educationist also believes that they will be able to deal with such situations more efficiently in the future. In addition to post-epidemic live teaching on campus, online activities will also continue. This will allow students to stay up-to-date on the course lessons even if they have never been to class and receive the teacher's assistance. This will further enhance the educational activities.

The situations of Open University (OU) and Arabic universities are even worse. Online education is the only way to continue studying in the Corona epidemic. In that case, the higher educational institutions should show the way to all other institutions.
But they lag behind in conduction online classes due to various infrastructure and knowledge gap.

Although private universities have started online classes from May, public universities have just starting online classes a few weeks ago.

Sheikh Kabir Hossain, President of Bangladesh Private University Association, told a media that, “The high cost of internet on online classes is a big problem. Students in villages are facing network drawbacks. However, the universities have given discounts on tuition fees as much as they can. We urge you to provide low cost or free internet packages to your students.”

There was reluctance to online classes at public universities. However, under the pressure of UGC, they started online classes from this month. However, after two weeks, only a few universities have been able to start online classes, he added.

He also said that, universities such as Dhaka, Chittagong, Jahangirnagar and Rajshahi universities could not show the way to others in this regard.

According to University Grants Commission (UGC) sources, the number of students in higher education in the country is nearly 41 lakh, and of them, 44 public universities have about three lakh students. And there are about four lakh students in 103 private universities.

There are about 28 lakh students in 2,258 colleges affiliated to the National University (NU) and nearly five lakh at the Open University(OU). There are more than one lakh students in other higher educational institutions, including Arabic universities.