In spite of having some difficulties, vice chancellors of public universities have agreed regarding taking online classes to minimize the losses of education during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, sources said.
However, they have placed several difficulties in conducting the classes and did not agree on taking online examinations.
The decision came from a virtual meeting of University Grants Commission (UGC) with the vice-chancellors of 46 public universities on Thursday.
About the decision of the meeting, UGC member Professor Dil Afroza Begum told Bangladesh Post, “All Vice-chancellors of public universities have agreed to take online classes. But, no decision have taken about exam. There are some barriers in conducting online classes. They have (VCs) placed these difficulties before the UGC Chairman in the virtual meeting.”
UGC Chairman urged the VCs to conduct online classes as per their ability, she added.
She also said, “We have conducted a survey to find out the barriers of taking classes online. High prices and low internet speed have become the main problem there. Some students do not have a smartphone that is also a problem. Reducing the cost of internet for students and providing free internet to the indigent will make online education easier.”
Chittagong University Vice-Chancellor Prof Shirin Akhtar said, “We tried to take classes through online. But many students from middle and lower class families do not have smartphones, which is a big problem. We are taking classes like MPhil and PhD through online.”
All the universities have been closed since March 17 and the closire has been extended till August 6 for worsening coronavirus situation.
However, out of 32 lakh students in higher education, 28 lakh students are still remain out of all academic activities.
Although the educational institutions have been closed for more than three months, public universities and national university affiliated colleges have not been able to start online classes yet.
As a result, students of Public universities and colleges under national university are going to get stuck in prolonged serious session jam.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) conducted a virtual meeting with the vice-chancellors of 46 public universities on Thursday to decide what to do in this situation.
Educationist and concerned people said that it would take at least a year to overcome the loss that already done in higher education.
Besides, there is no possibility of opening educational institutions even after August 6, if the corona situation will not improve, they envisage.
According to UGC sources, about 32 lakh students are currently studying in higher education institutions. Of these, about three lakh are students of public universities, 24.5 lakh students are studying in the colleges affiliated to the National University, and about four and a half lakh students are studying in private universities.
Only private universities continued their online education activities during the coronavirus situation. They have already taken the current semester exams online. The summer semester admission process will also start online from next July.
National University urged the affiliated colleges to start online classes.
Apart from this, the Department of Secondary and Higher Education has also given instructions to start online classes in government colleges.
However, with the exception of a few government colleges, no one was able to start online classes.
It is learned that among the public universities, Bangladesh University of Professional (BUP) and Dhaka University's IBA (Institute of Business Administration) are currently conducting cent percent online activities.
Some departments of several universities, including Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, are conducting online activities.
The UGC recently conducted a survey where about 40,000 teachers and students answered some 72 questions.
According to the survey, 86.6 percent of the students who took part in the survey have smartphones, 55 percent have laptops. On the other hand, all teachers have laptops.
But they said there were several number of problems with taking classes, including internet costs and a weak network.
According to the survey, 55 percent of students do not have an internet connection suitable for classes and 82 percent students think that online class are not like formal class.