Andhra Pradesh teachers criticise Jagan for bringing Byju’s to state government schools

Byju's would provide content to students in an interactive format and in a visual medium to make it easier for children to understand.

ByAnupama M

Published Jun 25, 2022 | 4:47 PMUpdatedJul 22, 2022 | 12:26 PM

AP CM Jagan Mohan Reddy with Byju's CEO Raveendran at Davos on 25 May, 2022 (Image: Andhra Pradesh CM/Offical Facebook Page)

Teachers at government schools across Andhra Pradesh have told South First that they are against the pact made by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy with ed-tech company Byju’s to provide its educative content to students of government schools.

The deal apparently aims to supply this content in an interactive format and in a visual medium to make it easier for children to understand.

Reddy has said the project would transform the lives of many children from weaker economic sections of society.

He said the ultimate objective of this project was to provide handholding to students of government schools so that they can pass their examinations with flying colours.

Teachers of government schools and educationists have criticised the move, saying it was hasty and was made with half-baked knowledge of the state government’s education system.

Online vs classroom teaching

Sheik Sabji, president of the Andhra Pradesh United Teachers Federation (APUTF), told South First that the idea of teaching using online content provided by a private firm in place of the well-researched state syllabus was in itself absurd. He added that the decision was half-baked.

“There are three kinds of students in every classroom. The first are students who need to be taught just once. The second is those who need some extra help from the teachers. And the third, who need a lot of effort from the teachers,” he explained.

“Byju’s can probably be effective for the first kind of students. But for the rest, a teacher should be the one doing the handholding,” he said.

Government school teacher Vijaya Gowri told South First that lapses in online teaching systems have already been highlighted during the Covid-induced lockdown period.

“We have seen the ineffectiveness of the online classes during the lockdown period. The students have fared very poorly in the exams and some government schools’ pass percentage was as low as 50 percent!” she added.

‘Can’t substitute teachers’

The teachers also expressed concern about the state syllabus being completely sidelined in the programme, and objected to the chief minister’s proposal to incorporate Byju’s syllabus into state textbooks without following the proper review process.

Talking to South First, Member of the Legislative Council and educationist V Balasubhramanyam expressed concern over the implementation of the Byju’s programme in government schools.

“If the teacher can teach lessons in his/her usual style and use this as a supplementary tool, there would be no problems. But to use it as a substitute for the regular teachers’ programme would prove detrimental to the interests of the students,” he said.

“You can’t use the syllabus taught to a student of Amritsar for a student of Anakapalli. The syllabus and the teaching methods have to be modified and customised as per the students’ needs. That is where the state syllabus and the state government teachers play their invaluable and irreplaceable roles,” he added.

‘Why the haste?’

Balasubhramanyam also criticised the chief minister for taking the decision in a haste without consulting all the stakeholders.

“Even the CEO of the company has said that the Andhra Pradesh government has moved at a rapid pace in signing the MoU. Why the haste?” he asked.

Reddy met Raveendran at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, only on 25 May. The MoU was signed less than three weeks later.

Balasubhramanyam also questioned the scientific correctness of providing online education where the students will have to use the computer tablet PCs for four-five hours every day.

“Where in the country or even the world are students encouraged to learn through tabs instead of books? The mental and physical health problems arising out of using tabs for long hours should also be taken into consideration,” he said.

Minister defends move

The state’s School Education Minister Botcha Satyanarayana, however, defended the move.

He told reporters, “The aim of the project is to provide quality education to poor students. The Byju’s content, which would otherwise cost ₹24,000 per year, is being provided to the poor government-school students for free.”

The minister added that 35 lakh students from Classes 4 to 8 would benefit from the MoU the state government has signed with Byju’s.

He said that the government would be spending ₹20,000 per student per year on this programme, and that this is a hard pill to swallow for the Opposition leaders.

The state government has also sanctioned ₹500 crore to provide tablet PCs to the 4.7 lakh Class 8 students of all government schools across Andhra Pradesh.