CM holds meetings to navigate the current COVID-19 crisis and future plans in the digital education sector

CM holds meetings to navigate the current COVID-19 crisis and future plans in the digital education sector

Gangtok, July 28: The Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang chaired two meetings of importance at Samman Bhawan with high-level officials on Monday, July 27th and Tuesday, July 28th.

On Monday, he met with the State Task Force to review the administration’s action plans on COVID-19 and on Tuesday, he discussed and deliberated on the current education situation and future road map of digital education in the State. 

The meetings were attended by Cabinet Ministers, Chief Secretary, Addl. Chief Secretary Finance, DGP, Heads of various Government departments, ADGP Law and Order, DIG Range, and senior officers of the State administration. 

Chief Secretary S.C. Gupta gave a brief overview of the situation and briefed about the second Notification issued on 26th July about the extension of lockdown, taking into account the prevailing situation in the State.

He also brought to light about the state facing monsoon woes due to incessant rainfall and how the government trying to restore the situation to lessen the problems faced by the people. He stated that the State administration has pulled manpower (janitors and office attendants) from various departments to augment the workers in the Health Department. 

The Chief Minister in his address informed about the State Government’s effective coordination to tackle the present situation. He pointed out in detail about the menace of fake news being circulated on social media. He stressed on the need to disseminate correct and factual information through the credible source and all news or information in any form should be verified and thoroughly checked with the concerned department before posting and uploading.

Furthermore, he said that if anybody is found to be spreading fake news on social media, electronic media, or in any form, the Government will take stringent action.

The CM wholeheartedly stressed on the need to consistently follow basic guidelines by everyone and added that the sudden surge of positive cases in the State is due to the gross violation of lockdown norms, despite a repeated appeal from the State Government.

He directed the Police to strictly initiate action against those who are found violating the lockdown guidelines. The proper health guidelines should be enforced and implemented in letter and spirit.

Thereafter, he maintained that post 1st August, there could be slight relaxation to facilitate certain activities. He urged everyone to continue to abide by all safety norms. 

In both meetings, it was informed that if any person came in contact with COVID-19 positive cases, they should immediately contact the toll-free State helpline number 104. The CM also stressed that the Helpline Number should be adequately publicized as a potential medium to aid in contact tracing. 

Monday’s meeting also took stock of the arrangements in place for the operation of OPD services in Old STNM hospital as a makeshift facility to provide basic healthcare. Issues concerning the supply of medicines and consumables in various hospitals, CHCs, PHCs, and PHSCs were also discussed in detail. 

Furthermore, the CM also directed the State administration to immediately address the shortage of manpower in the Health Department and make it fully equipped. He stated, “There should not be a dearth of manpower and medicines in the hospitals across the State.”

Tuesday’s meeting was deemed a ‘special’ meeting, taking cognizance that due to the global pandemic, education and students right to education have been hit hard and how to combat the situation, digital and online classes are the only option in the current situation.

The CM stated that the State Government is utilizing the IT sector to its optimum level, which had been dormant for all these years. He also stressed on the fact that during the pandemic, Information Technology and digital connectivity have played an effective and a monumental role and this technology boon could be used as a medium to move forward in this path and makes the best use of it.

He also reiterated that Sikkim has been granted an Independent BSNL Administrative Control Centre for the State which will improve connectivity and help in achieving e-Governance by 2022, as proposed by the Central Government. “We should focus on moving forward with time and adapting to technological advancement for overall development,” he stated.

There was a proposal that the teachers who are currently off duty due to the COVID-19 situation could be part of the monitoring team in GPUs for ensuring that the asymptomatic cases are following the necessary protocols and guidelines. Iterating that the teachers’ noble services could be utilized to raise awareness, educate, inform and regulate the patients.

Furthermore, he stressed that teachers should be well briefed before starting fieldwork. This proposal was appreciated by the department who would be preparing a list of teachers for the same purpose and prepare Standard of Practices (SOP). The CM suggested utilizing the services of OFOJ employees for assisting the teachers.

The CM also said that the maintenance of schools should be done regularly and should not be ignored because of the lockdown. Thereafter, he stressed that the education department would hold a meeting with the I.T department to sort out issues about digital education and find a middle path which would be feasible looking at the current scenario.

“Our Government emphasizes turning Sikkim into an educational HUB to attract students from various states and abroad. We should move towards the unconventional technique of education and more research-based methods in Soreng Science College and turn it into a centre for excellence by including subjects like Environmental science, climate change, Himalayan studies centre where traditional practices of Himalayan people and their livelihood opportunities will also be included.

The department should also prepare a Standard of Practise (SOP) in advance to monitor students, teachers and lecturers returning to the state in case of commencement of schools and colleges soon.”

Sources: IPR, CMO Press Release