Online class conundrum

Most students reluctant to attend online class

Most of the university students are reluctant to take online classes owing to inability, high cost and poor internet speed in remote areas.

Even a good number of students who have the ability to use high speed internet are also unwilling to take these classes.
Regarding online education, Bangladesh Post has recently conducted a survey in various social media groups of university students and contacted a number of vice chancellors of different universities.

At least one thousand students of different universities including in Dhaka and Chattogram participated in the survey.
Students were asked about willingness to attend online classes and whether they had the ability to see video lectures for at least half an hour per day.

More than 65 percent of students said they are unwilling to attend online classes because of inability to use high speed internet, high cost, poor speed and not having Smartphones or laptops.

Dhaka University student Arafat said, “I have come to my village (in Dinajpur district) following the announcement of vacation. I do not even talk over the phone here let alone use the internet! Online class is a daydream here.”

Shovon, a student of University of Chattogram (CU) said, “I use ‘Robi’ SIM, which is very slow.It takes nearly two hours to watch a half-hour video. I have no interest and patience to join classes online.”

Nayon, another CU student of the Statistics Department said, “I have the ability to join online classes as I use broadband connection and stay in town. But I have no interest in online class as it is boring.”

Meanwhile, in the first week of May, a survey was conducted on Dhaka University Economics department students over their online class.

According to the survey, only 25 percent of students were able to take their lessons online. The remaining 75 percent students were not able to take online classes due to various limitations.

Apart from this, it is known that most of the departments at public universities have no necessary preparations to conduct online class.

Despite instructions from the education minister to continue online educational activities during coronavirus pandemic, some university authorities are not showing interest.

According to UGC sources, although some private universities come under it, public universities are reluctant to do so. In this situation, the commission has started the work of making a policy to bring classes and examinations online.

A senior UGC official said the commission is trying to issue a policy in this regard. If this policy is issued, all public and private universities will have to run online educational activities.

UGC Chairman, Dr Kazi Shahidullah said that the work of making a policy to run online educational activities is going on.
He said, “The policy will be applicable to all public and private universities. A committee has been formed in this regard where UGC member Professor Dil Afroza Begum is the convener.

In this regard, Professor Dil Afroza Begum told Bangladesh Post, “We have not prepared any policy until now. We are conducting a survey. The policy will be done only when the survey is done.”

The Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dr Akhtaruzzaman conducted a meeting with the deans of different faculties of the university regarding online class.

It said most of the university students are staying at home in different parts of the country and do not have the ability to participate in online classes due to lack of internet and other technical facilities.

Jahangirnagar, Rajshahi, Chattogram and Jagannath universities are in a similar position.
Educationists said that there is no alternative to formal education in our country.

Rajshahi University Pro-VC Dr Professor Ananda Kumar Saha said that even though UGC has directed conducting online classes, it is not possible considering the overall situation.

Jagannath University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Mizanur Rahman said, “Our socio-economic condition has not created an environment for taking classes online. Starting classes online in this situation will create inequality among students. However, teachers can record some reading materials and post it on YouTube if they want, so that students can be benefitted.”

Contacted, Chattogram University VC Dr Shirin Akhter declined to comment in this regard.
However, online classes have started at Pabna University of Science and Technology (PUST) and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST).

PUST Vice-Chancellor M Rustam Ali said that online classes were started in one or two departments at first, but now it has started in almost all departments.

However, all students could not benefit from the class. For this, the online classes are being uploaded on the website, so that the students can take advantage of it. Only classes and assignments are being done online.

SUST Vice-Chancellor Dr Farid Uddin Ahmed said, “We have made students technology-friendly since the time of admission. If any student has problems attending online classes, they should contact their respective department heads and student advisors. In addition, the attendance of students in online classes will be considered from a humanitarian point of view.”