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The beauty and travails of online classes in Nepal

2021 Feb 16, 15:19, Kathmandu

Schools have finally started opening after the government lifted the restrictions that it had imposed on educational institutions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. In the interim period, most schools and colleges had conducted online classes for the students and some are still continuing with it. 

 Though online classes have gained popularity at present when schools first started them there were apprehensions related to the concept as it was totally new in Nepal. It took people time to adjust to the new reality.

 Various students had different experiences – some good and some bad – with the digital classes. There was a lot of free time for students and some actually did not appreciate that fact because they wanted to get on with their studies.

 For instance, Sameer Dhingra, currently studying at Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Boudha, states that the whole experience for him was awful. “The online classes made me realise how much I enjoy and miss the regular classes,” he says. He adds that he missed the structure that regular classes provided to his life.

 “Attending regular classes is a grueling affair but at least you get to meet friends and have discussions,” mentions Dhingra, “Not to forget the get-togethers we used to organise.” He further states that the schedule during regular classes was intense, however, there was so much he could learn through the formal and informal discussions in the classroom.

 The online classes seem like living a life of bondage, he laments. “Though the government has allowed schools to open our institute has still stuck with online classes,” he says, adding that he is waiting for regular classes to resume because he is tired of the monotony.

 Meanwhile, Purnima Darlami, from Naikap in Kathmandu, who has been studying at the Academy of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management in Lagankhel, shares that she does not like online classes because she cannot concentrate. “Most of us share our rooms with our siblings and when there is another person in the room it is very difficult to concentrate,” she adds.

 Darlami adds that the past year was like a long break and now since regular classes have resumed the workload has increased. “We have to now start working on everything that we missed in the past year.”  

 Not only students, but even the principals and teachers also faced some trying times when online classes were started. Ishwori P Lamichhane, Principal of Arunima Higher Secondary School in Kumarigal, reveals that initially it was tough as they weren’t prepared in terms of resources. “The other aspect that affected everybody I think was the fear of dying due to the virus,” he adds.  

 “During the first few days it was difficult calling parents and trying to convince them about the online classes,” shares Lamichhane. He adds that initially, the school had to train both teachers and students to use devices for online classes. “In fact, for the primary classes, we had to train the parents too.”

 According to him, the initial backlash against online classes was also a major problem. “However, all is well that ends well. It was a bit challenging to complete the courses but we have managed somehow,” he adds. “One beautiful aspect of the online classes was that we could connect with parents too because a lot of parents avoid visiting the school,” shares Lamichhane.

 One of the major hiccups of online classes was the technical issues that kept occurring, states Manisha Poudel, a teacher at Shridiwa International School in Bishalnagar.  “Students staying in the rural areas had problems with internet connectivity and Zoom wasn’t of much help too with all the interruptions,” she adds.

 She mentions that she is happy now that regular classes have started as the students can get together and have a good time with their classmates.

 However, Elen Rai, who teaches in IEC College in Mandikhatar, says that they did not face many problems with online classes. “To be honest I loved the online classes because it was very convenient for me,” he shares. “I was able to conduct classes from my studio itself so it saved me a lot of time as I did not have to commute to and from the college,” he adds.

 “Moreover, since the students were happy with the online classes I would say it was a success because at the end of the day it is the students who have to be satisfied,” states Rai. “The only setback was I could not personally interact with students, especially those who are introverts and needed close guidance.”

 According to Rai, though most people have not given it a thought the one very positive aspect about online classes was that even those students who were irregular during normal classes started attending the online classes on a regular basis.

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