File photo: Himanta Biswa Sarma

The Assam government has devised a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for re-opening schools in a phased manner, which it shall place before the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) for its approval.

Informing this at a press conference in Guwahati on June 7, state Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “We have created a SOP for reopening of classes for X and XII standards. Also, we want to resume classes on a rotational basis for two days a week from class VI onwards.”

He underlined that digital or online education cannot be an alternative for the classroom-teaching, especially in the rural areas.

“The HRD ministry has called a video-conference with all the states and we shall place our SOPs before them. Only if the HRD ministry allows us to move forward, we will proceed,” Sarma, who also holds the Health and Finance portfolios in the state cabinet, added.

In continuation of initiatives to facilitate studies during the lockdown, the ‘Gyan Briksha’ television channel launched exclusively for the students will henceforth be available on Jio TV also.

The minister said, “Earlier, the channel was only available through Prag cable network. Now, under its CSR activity, Jio TV has come forward to host the channel, without charging any money. We would welcome other cable or mobile operators to also host the channel.”

He also unveiled an addition to the Diksha mobile application for students, under the link ‘gyan daan’ in which experts of any field can upload their class or lecture.

Sarma further announced free admission for all students from Higher Secondary to post-graduate in all government institutions for the next academic session owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He added that in lieu of laptops presented to all first division holders of matriculation under state board, an amount of Rs 20,000 will be deposited in the bank accounts of the students this year as a special measure.

Students staying in college or institution’s hostels will also get partial refund of higher amount of their mess dues than in previous years, while money shall also be transferred to students’ bank accounts to purchase text-books.

The minister informed that a law, making teaching Assamese mandatory in all schools in the state from class I to X, has been notified after receiving the governor’s nod.

Further, a law banning inter-district transfer of teachers till 12 years of joining, except in special cases, has also been notified, he added.

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