Hyderabad: Though online classes may have ensured that classes do not stop for many learners, there are universities in which a sizeable population of students have limited or no access to internet. Since many do not have laptops or phones, they are facing multiple bottlenecks in accessing classes
In a letter to the Vice-Chancellor In-Charge, t he Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) Students Union (SU) President Umar Faruq Quadri wrote, “It is dangerously destabilizing between students that some are taking advantage of technology and others are struggling.”
The letter alludes to the time when the SU previously raised the issue of this digital divide when they asked the administration for alternative ways to conduct examinations.
Many attendees of MANUU are from lower stratum of communities. On behalf of the union, Quadri stated, “Many of them do not have private space to access the online class for multiple hours daily. Regions such as Kashmir and large parts of north-eastern states are facing state-led digital exclusion. Also accessing four to give hours of online classes through mobile data is a huge financial burden.”
The SU’s specific demands include the minimal use of synchronous methods as more than 60 per cent of students cannot access online classes regularly. Hence, they demand university to prioritize asynchronous methods and synchronous methods to be used as minimal.
They further demanded that the students must be E-Resources, especially for technical courses. They demanded recorded lectures rather than online ones as conferencing takes up for data consumption than recorded material. Furthermore they requested the university to parcel all reading materials in physical as well as digital form to those students (through pen drive or any other means).
They lastly demand that considering the current situation, class attendance should be halted or the university should clearly notify non-compulsion of any attendance criterion for the coming semester examination. Mandatory presence in online learning sessions is putting huge psychological burden on the students who cannot attend or access the class regularly.