India: Colleges, varsities reopen for students in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: After a gap of nearly nine months, colleges and universities in Kerala reopened for students on Monday with strict COVID-19 safety norms.

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The classes will be conducted between 8.30am and 5pm on all days, except Sundays.

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Around 1,350 higher educational institutions, including arts and science colleges, engineering colleges, law colleges as well as all the state universities and the lone central university in the state located in Kasaragod have commenced their classes.

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Only 50 per cent of students will be allowed in each class based on the strength, in compliance with strict COVID-19 norms.

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Parvathi Babu, a third year BA political science student of a college in Thiruvananthapuram, said: “It’s an excitement to be among the classmates and teachers in physical form after such a long gap. We were in virtual world for the past nine months.”

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However, some teachers have expressed their discontent over the education department’s decision to extend the timings of the classes.

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Thomas Sebastian, a teacher with a government arts college in the state capital, said, “Workload is very high and with classes between 8.30am and 5pm, teachers are overburdened. Besides, conducting classes on Saturdays is also not a good idea.”

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Higher Education Department Principal Secretary Usha Titus said that the new arrangement has been made to compensate for the gap and to ensure that the academic session continues normally.

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Titus said: “The working pattern will adhere to the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) guidelines which mandate 40 working hours a week, of which 16 hours had to be dedicated to the classes of assistant professors and 14 hours for associate professors and professors”.

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Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran told media that he has already directed the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) to immediately take action regarding the roll-out of travel concession to students.

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