Colleges reopen, but classes empty
Apart from COVID-19, low attendance was also attributed to the lack of adequate transport
Almost all campuses across the State were deserted and classrooms saw only a handful of students in attendance on Tuesday, when degree, diploma and engineering colleges re-opened after a gap of eight months.
Students, besides submitting consent forms from parents and COVID-19 negative certificates, also had to sanitise their hands and undergo health screenings before attending classes. However, the precautionary measures put in place as safeguards against COVID-19 did little to allay the fears of students and parents.
In some cases, lecturers who reported to work did not conduct classes as no student had turned up. There were several instances of lectures being held for one student.
At Maharani’s Arts, Commerce and Management College For Women, a few teachers held classes for a single student. A final year B.A. student said that she was the only person in the classroom with her professor. “I was keen to attend class after so many months at home. I travelled for one and a half hour by public transport to college. When I saw that I was the only student, I thought the class would be cancelled, but the lecturer conducted it for me,” she said.
At Government First Grade College, Raichur, only one fifth semester B.Com student among 1,333 final year students reported to campus. Mallanagouda, principal, said that 26 lecturers came to work, but only one lecturer took a class.
K.R. Venugopal, Vice-Chancellor, Bangalore University, said that they had less than 3% attendance in the departments, while affiliated colleges had an attendance of 5-10%. He however said that they anticipate the attendance to improve in a week. D. Kemparaju, Vice-Chancellor, Bengaluru North University, said they recorded 18% attendance.
Fear of contracting COVID-19 was not the only reason that kept people away. Students and lecturers also attributed the low attendance to the lack of adequate transport available, particularly in rural areas. Many students said that they were unable to go to a testing centre, while others did not want to get tested for COVID-19. In some instances, students said that their parents did not give their consent.
At engineering colleges
The turnout at engineering colleges was also poor. At UVCE, none of the students reported to class. Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) VC Karisiddappa said that while 65% students had consented to attend classes, only 20-35% turned up. Evening colleges, too, saw low student strength. At the Sheshadripuram Evening College, only 16 out of 200 final-year students attended. “Despite conducting virtual meetings, parents did not want to send their children to college as they depend on public transport,” said N.S. Satish, principal.
M. Manjunath, president, Karnataka Government College Teachers’ Associatio,n said that classes were held only for final year students. “A majority of the colleges reported low attendance. Only around 10-20% of students opted to attend these classes.