In a bid to expand the reach of private schools, the Rajasthan government is coming up with a new regulation allowing education technological (ED-Tech) companies such as Byju’s and Unacademy to run “virtual” online schools with the help of existing non-government schools, officials said, sharing details of first of its kind policy.
The regulation for virtual school will allow only live classes by teachers and will have to follow the curriculum of the Board of Secondary Education Rajasthan, officials said.
In case the companies want to get affiliated with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) or any other national board, they will have to seek no objection from the board, the concept note of the proposed guidelines seen by HT says.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw how popular online classes were and they could be a means to provide quality education outside the schools. We are coming up with regulations to recognize non-government virtual schools from Class IX to XII in Rajasthan from the academic session 2023-24,” a senior education department official aware of the development said.
With this, the official said, the registered institutions can take approval to start virtual school in addition to providing ongoing offline education. Under the scheme, the official said, “the Ed-Tech companies will have to sign an agreement with existing recognized non-government schools to use their infrastructure such as laboratories, playgrounds, classrooms and libraries etc.”
The MoU which will be called ‘Virtual Integration Partnership (VIP)’, will be done for a minimum of four years, an official said.
“The Ed-Tech companies will have to get affiliation from the concerned Board of Secondary Education and will have to follow the rules and curriculum of these Boards. The online link of the class will be shared with a maximum of 45 students and the class will be live only. Recorded classes will be allowed only for revision,” the official said, sharing the contours of the proposed scheme.
Further, as per the policy, it will be mandatory for the concerned virtual school to obtain a no-objection certificate from the department before getting affiliation from CBSE, CISCE or CAIE.
Another education department official said the scheme will allow existing schools to reach more students and it will also help students of rural and remote areas to get good quality education.
Rajasthan education minister BD Kalla said Rajasthan is probably the first state to start such a scheme, which will be started in the coming session. “The scheme aims to take quality education to rural parts of Rajasthan,” he said.
Commenting on the initiative, Society of Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan president Damodar Goyal said the scheme has inherent flaws such as no approval from the state Secondary Education Board. Also, the recognised schools are permitted only for physical classes and not for virtual ones.
He added that concept should be given proper legal support so that the students don’t suffer at the time of the admission. “Another concern is that the teachers are not trained for online classes; screen time will be a big issue as was observed during corona. The holistic activists which the schools conduct will not be available online, which will affect the overall development of the student,” he said.