As the COVID-19 induced lockdown is extended in Maharashtra, the first big challenge for the state government is to deal with the issues related to Education Department. The academic year in the state used to begin with the month of June. But as per the latest decision on the lockdown, schools, colleges, training centres and other educational institutions won't be open till June 30 at least. So, the government is now planning virtual classes and online learning systems to overcome the challenge.
In a meeting with state Education Department officials, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray termed education as an 'essential service' and said, "The way we deal with other essential services, we will have to deal similarly in educational issues also. Government can't keep quiet and sit idle for entire year. The educational year must be started in June itself."
To that effect, the state government has asked schools to use Google platforms wherever possible. In the remote areas where internet connectivity could be an issue, the schools can open with permission of local administration. It has also asked to follow the rules of 'physical distancing' strictly to avoid spread of COVID-19.
The Thackeray-led government has also tried to resolve the issue of pending exams of college students. In the month of May, higher and technical education minister Uday Samant announced that the students of girst and second year undergraduate programmes will be promoted to next class with aggregate marks according to their performance in earlier semesters. However, similar announcement had not been made for third year students.
On Saturday, May 30, CM Thackeray held a meeting with Governor Bhagatsingh Koshyari, vice chancellors of all universities and officers from the Education Department. It was decided in the meeting that the students of third year will get aggregate marks as per their performances in earlier semesters in same year. This will resolve the issue of around eight lakh students in state, as per higher and technical education department of Maharashtra.
This was also a point of tussle between the state government and Governor Koshyari a few days back. Minister Uday Samant had written a letter to UGC chairman requesting the postponement of the final exams. But, Koshyari had taken objection to the letter which was sent without prior consultation with him, as he is Chancellor of all universities.
Almost all buildings of government schools in towns are currently being used as centres for quarantine purposes. The state government has asked local authorities to sanitise every school and college after they are vacated and handover the schools to the respective authorities.
The state government also cleared the processing of certificates for MBBS students who graduated in February 2019 and have completed their internship. There are around 4,000 doctors who are now ready to join practice. They will get temporary degree certificates and receive their final certificates when the situation improves. The Medical Education Department has also declared that these students can register themselves with the Maharashtra Medical Council.