J&K universities struggle to move classes online with 2G, pvt DTH operators told to air govt education channels

Ritika Chopra
coronavirus india lockdown, coronavirus update, govt education channels, govt education channels in J&K, DTH service in kashmir, Private DTH operators,

Since March 4, only 2G mobile services with no restriction on websites have been allowed in J&K despite demands for restoring high-speed Internet amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government has asked private DTH operators to telecast at least one SWAYAM PRABHA channel covering higher education after centrally-run educational institutions in Jammu & Kashmir flagged problems in shifting classes online because of restrictions on Internet speed.

Since March 4, only 2G mobile services with no restriction on websites have been allowed in J&K despite demands for restoring high-speed Internet amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the J&K administration in a plea seeking restoration of 4G mobile Internet services.

The National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Srinagar had apprised the HRD Ministry a week ago of its struggle to conduct real-time lessons online and to even upload resource material with 2G Internet speed. The Central University of Jammu and the Central University of Kashmir, too, are facing problems and have mostly limited themselves to sharing PDFs, Word files and PowerPoint presentations over WhatsApp and email with students.

"About 60 per cent of our faculty lives outside the campus, but reside in J&K. Such teachers are unable to contribute to online learning. Our teachers living outside the Union Territory are shouldering most of this responsibility now," said a senior officer of NIT Srinagar, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Universities and schools across the country were forced to close from March 17 to contain the spread of COVID-19. Since then, the HRD Ministry and University Grants Commission have been encouraging higher education institutions to move classes online. Since last week, the HRD Ministry has also started seeking status reports from centrally-run institutions on online learning.

J&K students, who returned home after universities and colleges across the country shut down to contain the spread of COVID-19, are also unable to access real-time and recorded lectures of their teachers with 2G Internet speed.

"Yes, we are aware of this problem. We have approached the I&B Ministry to ask private DTH providers to air at least one of our higher education channels. Everyone doesn't have DD Free Dish. (If private providers air our channel) then this should increase access and resolve the problem faced by the students (in J&K)," Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare told The Indian Express.

SC notice to Centre, J&K on plea against Internet curbs

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea against restricting mobile Internet in the region to 2G speed.

Taking up the matter through video conference, a bench of Justices N V Ramana, B R Gavai and Subhash Reddy issued the notice on a plea by the Federation of Media Professionals, a non-profit organisation.

The petitioner contended that restricting access to 4G speed, especially amid the pandemic, amounts to restricting the right of the people, including doctors in J&K, to access important daily advisories and guidelines regarding the pandemic. The court will hear the matter again next week.

E-learning portals record surge in visits

New Delhi: The lockdown has led to a surge in the number of hits and visits on the government's e-learning platforms, the HRD Ministry said Thursday. The national MOOC platform SWAYAM was accessed nearly 2.5 lakh times till April 8, a five-fold increase from the 50,000 hits in the last week of March. Similarly, the National Digital Library was accessed about 1.6 lakh times just Wednesday as opposed to the pre-lockdown average of 22,000 strikes daily. —ENS


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