To help students combat depression and get access to professional assistance on issues related to studies, the Tripura government has launched a call centre with mental health experts, teachers and doctors on board.
The students have been confined to their homes amid the on-going coronavirus pandemic and several reports have highlighted incidents of suicide and depression owing to several factors including lack of physical interaction with friends and parents keeping a strict vigil over the children's movements which has taken a hit on their emotional as well as mental well-being.
Launching the call centre for counselling the students in the state, Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath said that many parents and guardians are tensed about their children suffering from depression as they are unable to go to school.
Speaking to EastMojo, he said the call centre would attend the call from students and their parents and as per their request and queries the call will be transferred to the teacher concerned.
"Many parents have complained and expressed their concern for their children suffering due to lockdown. The schools have been closed since March 17. The call centre having 24 expert teachers and four doctors in addition with educational counsellors would help the teachers overcome this difficult situation," Nath said.
Reportedly, the helpline will be available at 0381-241-0053 and would be open from Monday to Saturday between 10 am and 4 pm for school students of Class-I to Class XII.
The helpline would direct the calls to teachers, doctors, psychologists, education counsellors as per the request or after assessing the requirement of the caller.
Detailing on the mechanism that has been put in place, a panel of doctors would be available to take calls to answer any query while four doctors and few educational counsellors, educationists would be available for advising children on depression, academic counselling etc.
"This effort is to help students stuck in their homes from spiralling into depression. We feel this is a right decision taken at the right time", Nath added.
The state government had decided to start "neighbourhood classes" of up to five students amid the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of novel coronavirus. A teacher will teach a maximum of five students by maintaining social distancing, at his house or in the residence of any of his students in the neighbourhood.
Additionally, the education department also started broadcasting recorded lectures through local cable TV channels and interactive classes were started on Doordarshan to enable students residing in rural areas and far-flung villages to get access to lessons.
Reportedly, the department has started online classes on social media and SMS based interactive classes for those who don't have access to smartphones or internet connectivity.
Degree Admission Goes Digital
Amid the rising coronavirus cases in the state, the government on Tuesday, August 4 introduced an online admission system for degree colleges.
Nath said that state's 22 general degree colleges will be done online in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and the decision has been taken for the welfare and safety of the students.
Everything will be available in detail on the admission portal and the students can fill up their application forms online from their homes. The admission will be done on the basis of merit. The candidates will have to furnish their photograph, signature and marks.
During admission, they can give their preferences for location. They will also have the choice to change their colleges for a maximum three times if seats are available in their preferred colleges, informed the minister.
"The students can apply for a minimum of six colleges and a maximum of 15 colleges. They can take admission in colleges online without moving out of their homes. Admission in colleges would be done on merit," Nath added, reported The Indian Express.
He also informed that the ministry has decided to waive off the charges of online portal registration, admission, college development and tuition fees but the university registration fees and other nominal feels would be chargeable.
According to reports, the classes are supposed to begin online from September 6. The admission process will start from August 10 and continue until August 20. The merit lists will come out in three phases on August 25, August 29 and September 3. Notifications for confirmation of admissions would be available from August 26 till September 5.
The change in the academic pattern with the introduction of the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has also led to uncertainties in the minds of the students. Lauding the policy and terming it as a historical decision, Nath said that it would lead to quality education, and boost the children and youth in becoming self-reliant.
The minister stressed that the new NEP approved by the Narendra Modi-led government replaced the 34-year-old National Policy on Education to boost the capabilities of the country's youth in the spheres of learning, research and innovation.
Nath also said that the new education policy would not be a burden for the students but would help the students in becoming self-reliant. "The days of learning by memorization are over," he said, reported The North East Today.
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday, July 29, approved the new National Education Policy (NEP). The policy also provides for increased focus on non-academic skills and increased inclusion through language diversity and course fluidity.
Under the new policy, some of the major reforms include a plan to increase public spending on education to nearly 6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from around 4 per cent, while restructuring of higher education into three categories of institutions, and discontinuation of MPhil courses. Also ensuring universal access to school education at all levels- preschool to secondary.