Over 40 per cent Jawaharlal Nehru University students could not attend online classes during the lockdown for reasons such as Internet connectivity issues, lack of personal gadgets, loss of family livelihood and domestic burden, according to a survey conducted by two professors.
The result came in the survey by professors Atul Stood and Ayesha Kidwai among 131 teachers of the JNU who taught online classes. It was carried out through online circulation over five days, with only those teachers who were teaching a course assigned in Winter Semester.
A total of 131 teachers — or 22.74 per cent of the 576 employed currently in JNU, and 42.25 per cent of the 310 faculty involved in online education — from nine schools, representing humanities, social science, languages, and the sciences participated in it, the survey said. The findings stated that 97 per cent respondents (teachers) received no tech support from the JNU for the courses they taught online, while 98 per cent paid the Internet data costs from their own pockets. “Across programmes, course syllabi have not been covered through online teaching, as prior to the lockdown, only about 30% of over 56 per cent of courses had been completed,” it said.
“More than 40 per cent students in BA, MA/MSc and MTech/MPhil/PhD classes could not access online education,” the survey added. It said access to online classes was lowest in the BA course with over 60 per cent being unable to participate, followed by MA/MSc (over 40 per cent). In all the courses with low attendance, students faced internet connectivity issues, lack of library access, anxiety/depression and increased domestic burden, unavailability of personal computer/ laptop/tablet/smartphone, the survey said. Around 35 per cent teachers reported that over 50 per cent of the students in their classes do not have stable Internet or access to libraries. More than 20 per cent teachers reported that up to 50 per cent of students in their classes have feelings of anxiety/depression over the pandemic/lockdowns, lack of study space in the place of residence, loss of fellowship, increased domestic responsibilities, and/or disruption/loss of family livelihood, the survey said.
It also cited the data submitted by the university to the HRD Ministry in April which stated that only 35.6 per cent male students and 29.7 per cent female students participated in online education due to a lack of access to the internet, stable bandwidth and requisite devices, the report states.
The survey also stated that about two-thirds (66.2 per cent) of the teachers agreed that admissions for the Academic Year 2020-21 be delayed until January 2021 and that students be allowed to add/drop extra courses enrolled for in the Winter Semester 2020 when the university reopens (65.4 per cent).
“An overwhelming percentage of teachers were in support of extending the semester from 45 to 60 days after the date of reopening and conducting in-class evaluations (above 70 per cent) both for continuing and final year students,” the survey said.