Still, distance learning is catching up and where young students are logging on for online classes, the process has made them more tech-savvy and more confident with digital technology.
In Mangal Prasad School in Nepalganj has been encouraging its children to get online so they can catch up with missed school. Says teacher Sandhya Sharma: “Those who are attending digital classrooms are doing well, we are happy with their progress. But I am sorry to say that there are many who have just not been logging on.”
The Annapurna School in Bharatpur trained its teachers using online tools like Google Classroom and Zoom, but only half the students are attending online classes. The school did a survey and found out why: of its 700 students, less than 20% had wifi and only 10% could access mobile data.
Even after Yasodhara School in Lalitpur offered to pay data fees for mobiles of students to take online classes, only half the children did. The parent body of the school is mainly made up of daily wage earners.
After last year’s lockdown, a Unicef survey showed that 95% of families surveyed said their children had stopped going to school. A third of the respondents said their children had access to distance learning, but only half were using it.
‘The continued loss of access to education in low-income families might have an irreversible negative impact on the country’s economy,’ Unicef said then. However, students did attend schools for about two months between the two Covid waves earlier this year, and the uptake of online glasses has gone up.
As the second wave crests, the government has eased the lockdown. Public transport, shops, airlines are back in operation and only restaurants, bars, cinemas and schools are still closed. But in Kathmandu Valley many schools are preparing to reopen even as the infection rate continues to remain high, with a quarter of those being tested being positive for Covid-19.