Lieutenant Governor, G C Murmu on Tuesday chaired a high-level meeting of Education department to review the education scenario in Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir amid COVID-19 lockdown.
Among others, the meeting was attended by Advisor K K Sharma, Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam, Principal Secretary Planning department and Information department Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary School Education Dr Asgar Samoon, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir P K Pole, Secretary Higher Education Talat Parvez Rohella, Director School Education Kashmir Muhammad Younis and Director Colleges Prof Muhammad Yaseen.
The meeting discussed the overall functioning of the department and the status of academic activities during the present crisis.
Principal Secretary School Education Dr Asgar Samoon informed the meeting that in the absence of normal functioning of schools due to lockdown, the students are being taught through tele-classes being conducted through local cable network Doordarshan, Radio and J&K Knowledge Network. Besides online virtual classes are being arranged for students who have access to smartphones.
Under Aawo Padhein initiative, Directorate of School Education has made available a repository of video lessons which are accessible on its website www.dsek.nic.in. Besides, a school management system application has been prepared by the School Education department for three tier monitoring of teaching-learning process.
Lieutenant Governor discussed the progress of making school books available to the students. He gave directions for installing TV sets in far off and tail-end schools so that they too can have access to virtual classes which would promote e-Learning in these challenging times and asked for framing broad based committee of experts for revision of academic curriculum.
Secretary School Education informed the meeting that the department has ensured continuity of Mid Day Meal scheme by providing dry ration to 8,23,150 students at the rate of 6 kg per primary student and 9 kg for upper primary student and the cooking cost for two months is being credited into the bank accounts of eligible children through the DBT mode.
He further informed that under the MDM scheme, 22205 schools have been covered out of targeted 22214 while 882782 children out of targeted 924036 stand covered. The meeting was informed that an amount of rupees 5225.184 lacs has been allocated for distribution of two sets of uniforms to 870864 students belonging to SC, ST and BPL families.
Regarding training, it was informed that under the National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA), elementary school teachers were being trained in collaboration with the NCERT.
Lieutenant Governor directed that lab survey of high and higher secondary schools be conducted to fill the gaps and asked the department to ensure up-gradation of Science labs in schools as well as colleges so that these are equipped with all necessary instruments.
LG directed the concerned to conduct safety audit of all school buildings. He asked the School Education department to verify whether toilets constructed under different government schemes are fully functional. He gave directions for 100% coverage of schools in providing them toilet facility and piped water connection in the left out pockets under the Jal Jeevan Mission.
Citing lopsided teacher-student ratio in most of the government-run schools, LG gave instructions for rationalization of staff in government schools so that an adequate number of teachers are available in rural areas.
Regarding the menace of absenteeism in schools, LG directed the concerned to develop an application-based attendance system across J&K for both teachers and students to ensure cent percent attendance.
LG also gave strict instructions for making training mandatory for teachers so that they remain abreast with the latest teaching techniques and asked the department to devise a proper training calendar for teachers.
During the meeting, LG announced that it may not be possible to reopen the schools till 31st May 2020 and during this time period the department should take up infrastructural repairs. He emphasized that before the schools and colleges are reopened, all educational institutions should be properly sanitized and fumigated.
He also directed for setting up a mechanism for general health check-up of the students twice a year besides issuing health cards so that their parents remain aware of their childrens’ state of health.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Secretary asked the School Education Department to complete the departmental promotions at all levels to firm up the transition of SSA teachers against regular posts. He asked the department to work out a framework for having composite schools in Government sector and to undertake quality assessment of schools through Quality Council of India.
Secretary Higher Education informed the meeting about the post COVID-19 efforts put in by the department towards curriculum delivery which included e-classes delivered through textual Google classes which are being supplemented through Whatsapp and Facebook platforms.
He said that 64411 under graduate students of Kashmir Division and 52549 of Jammu Division stand registered for e-classes and till date 12016 Google classes were delivered for UG students of Kashmir and 18139 were arranged for UG students of Jammu.
Secretary Higher Education informed that under ICT intervention, smart digital classrooms have been established in 80 colleges and e-content has been procured for 87 subjects while faculty members are working on the development of e-content for 48 more.
LG directed the concerned authorities to arrange Computer Tablets for SC, ST and backward undergraduate students so that they too can have access to e-learning.
He also gave instructions to sanitize and refurbish all hostel buildings before these are reopened. He also directed to set up hostel facilities for all tribal children so that they can stay back for studies while their parents are away attending to their calling.