A shift to virtual learning amid the coronavirus crisis has presented a host of new challenges to students as many do not have access to appropriate technology to benefit from the services.
Samara Fatima Raihan, a playgroup student of Mastermind School, attends online classes via Zoom app from her grandparents’ home in Chandpur.
“My daughter’s classes began in the first week of July but she missed a number of lectures due to poor internet connectivity,” Samara’s mother said.
“Teachers, however, provide explanations of the class material over the phone if she misses a lecture. They also send in the necessary notes, lecture videos and pictures through the messenger app.”
After the shutdown of educational institutions in March, the government decided to introduce virtual classes through television broadcasts and video conferencing. But many students do not have TVs and lack proper devices and internet connection.
A lot of students went back to their village homes following the shutdown. Although many have smartphones, students are facing problems with internet connectivity.
“All my devices are 3G and so I cannot take advantage of the 4G technology. The 3G network is not that stable. Getting a Wi-Fi connection is also time-consuming. As a result, my online classes keep getting disrupted,” Nasimul Huda, a third-year student of the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism at Dhaka University, reports bdnews24.com.
“I have to travel two kilometres to Upazila Sadar every time to attend the classes as I do not get network at home. But I still get disconnected at times.”
Nasimul demanded an arrangement of short-term loans by the government or university administration to solve the problem of devices as well as high-speed internet connectivity through negotiations with telecom operators.
“I am having trouble buying expensive internet packages and the speed is also very slow,” said Rabiul Alam, a second-year student of the Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Dhaka University, currently residing in Chattogram.
“I keep getting disconnected automatically. I use a very low-quality mobile phone. I do not have a proper environment in my house for studying. I also do not have the books with me and so I am struggling to keep up with others.”
Online classes began at Shahjalal University of Science & Technology on Apr 4. Students were initially opposed to the idea as many could not afford to buy internet packages. Later, the university started providing every student with a 15 GB monthly internet package from Jul 19 onwards.