Uttarakhand government starts virtual classroom to mitigate teacher shortage



Benefitting around 1.90 lakh students from classes 6-12, the Uttarakhand government on Saturday started the Virtual Classroom Project, an online method of teaching, where teachers sitting in specials studios in Dehradun will teach students live.

This project was started under the Information and Communication Technology scheme of ‘Samagra Sikshar Abhiyan’ in the state.

While launching the project, which in the initial phase covers 150 schools, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat inaugurated the first such studio in Dehradun on Saturday. He even interacted with students from different schools from remote areas using the technology.

The virtual classrooms will use the Satellite Interactive Technology (SIT) and Receive only Terminal (ROT) technologies for a two-way seamless interactivity.

These technologies will be used for teaching different subjects by experts and teachers from the four central studios constructed in Dehradun. At present, the project covers 150 schools, which will be expanded to 500 schools within one month.

During the inauguration, chief minister Rawat said, “It is a new era of education that is starting in Uttarakhand today (Saturday) with the use of this technology. This project was approved around nine years ago but implementation took time. A lot of time has been lost by us, but now by taking the right decision at the right time we want to save our future generations from losses but rather we want to connect the young generation with the world and give them better exposure.”

“Now we can also solve the issue of lack of teachers in remote areas as many a times the appointment of teachers takes time or there are not enough subject specific teachers specially for science related courses. With this new move students will have multi dimensional development and they will not be restricted to the four walls of classroom,” added the chief minister.

Rawat also said that the state government will look into how this technology can be used for spreading literacy in villages for older men and women, or teaching the womenfolk of villages’ new techniques of farming or other life skills.

“This technology will be used for teaching for maximum six hours a day, but we want to use this technology for others also. Soon we will start programs for spreading literacy amongst villagers, get motivational speakers for both young and old and we can also screen films or other modes of entertainment for the community which is both informative and entertaining,” said Rawat.

After the inauguration, the chief minister along with education minister Arvind Pandey and secretary for school education R Meenakshi Sundaram gave a live demonstration of how the virtual classroom project works. They spoke to students from different government schools in remote areas like, Government Girls Inter College (GGIC) Karanprayag, Government Inter College (GIC) Pandukeshwar, GGIC Ranikhet, GIC Ekeshwar, GIC Haripur Harsan, GIC Digtoli and GIC Gurna.

Mukul Sati, additional program director for Samagra Sikhsha Abhiyan in the state, said, “This initiative has been started under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) scheme of the state.”

“Students will be able to directly learn from experts in Dehradun with the help of online classes. A timetable of lectures to be taught will be prepared in advance and four subjects can be taught together with the help of the four studios constructed for virtual classes.” The department has signed a memorandum of understanding regarding this project with Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) who will be helping with the technology.

Secretary for school education, R Meenakshi Sundaram said, “This will not just make students adept with information and communication technology, but also solve the problem of shortage of teachers in government schools in the state, especially in the hilly and remote areas of the state. Students can also prepare for competitive examinations like Joint Entrance Exam (JEE), National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET), scholarship exams, and many others.”

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