India to open first hybrid school as pandemic hits learning

Pupils from around the country will attend a blend of online and in-person classes

Pupils at a school in Bangalore, in southern Indian state of Karnataka. School-age children have suffered in India as the pandemic forced schools to close for prolonged periods. EPA

An Indian educational institution is planning to open South Asia’s first hybrid school that will offer both online and offline learning to children, as the country continues to grapple with pandemic-related shutdowns.

Jain International Residential Hybrid School in Bangalore in southern Karnataka state will admit pupils from January 2022. The new school will bring together teachers and pupils from across geographical locations on a single platform.

The model offers both online and in-person teaching to pupils from kindergarten through to Grade 12 through a network of at least 40 home campuses in 20 Indian cities, including the capital New Delhi and Mumbai.

The school will have teachers from around the world who will stream their classes online using a learning operating system called TMRW.

While the pupils will have the main branch as their parent school, they will be tied to a local school in their city called their home campus. Sports and physical activities will take place in-person at the home campus.

“We were looking out for an alternate model to reach out to students and parents,” said Hussain Dohadwalla, one of the board members of the programme.

“We saw the limitations of a completely online education. The social interaction which is such a key part of the school is lacking,” he told The National.

“While teaching will still be happening online, we will have some sessions happening offline in a home campus during the weekends for cultural activities, career counselling, which is close to where the child stays."

The new schooling concept comes at a time when children in India have suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic that led to significant closures of schools, forcing them to take online classes.

Many experts and parents have expressed concerns that long absence from the classroom will adversely affect the children.

But some parents have supported online schools over fears that children were being exposed to Covid-19.

Several reports have warned that the pandemic could result in millions of children, mostly from poorer backgrounds, dropping out of schools because they are unable to afford devices required to continue education.

Cities like Delhi opened schools briefly in November after they had been shut since March 2020, only for them to close their doors again because of severe air pollution in the city.

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Updated: December 21st 2021, 2:21 PM