FTII Students’ Association Demands Suspension of Online Classes Due to COVID Crisis

The students’ association of the Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) has sought immediate suspension of online classes for the 2020 batch students, saying that it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to attend classes due to the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis.

The FTII Students Association (FSA) said in a press release that students of the 2020 batch have been raising “various concerns about the online medium of education” over the past month. The administration is “strangling students with mandatory attendance criteria”, the association said, saying this is in violation of the attendance criteria mentioned in the UGC guidelines for online classes.

The FSA said it has sought a meeting with the institute’s chairman Shekhar Kapur to express their concerns, but they have only been granted a meeting 11 days later.

According to news agency PTI, the institute’s administration has said that online classes are being conducted only for one batch and many students are attending the classes and have demanded that they should continue. It also made it clear that online classes will continue to be held for the duration they are planned.

The FSA release says, “We are witnessing an exponential increase in cases each day and people are struggling to avail medical facilities.”

“FTII chairman Mr Shekhar Kapur is reluctant to meet us and has given us a date 11 days later from now for a meeting to discuss our urgent concerns. We are sad and concerned to state that students, faculties, staff members and families are getting affected not just by COVID-19, but also by financial and mental health issues associated with it,” it said.

The students are from different parts of the country and it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to attend classes amid this health crisis, the release added.

The FSA demanded that the FTII chairman should meet them at the earliest and understand the concerns in view of the devastating second wave of COVID-19 in the country. The institute should immediately halt online classes, the FSA said.

“Earlier, SRFTI administration had withdrawn online classes for the new batch after the students had addressed their concerns. We are also seeing multiple other institutions including Delhi University, which has suspended their online medium of education at this point of the pandemic,” the release says.

FTII director Bhupendra Kainthola said, “Online classes are on only for the 2020 batch and many students are attending the classes and have asked that the classes should continue. Connectivity and other issues are there, but still students are regular in their classes and in direct contact with their teachers.”

“FTII administration is also helping the students. For instance, in the case of a student from Kargil, on the request of FTII the Ladakh administration is facilitating the student with venue and connectivity,” he said.

In case students miss a lecture or a session, a review or recap session is planned on Saturdays, he told PTI.

FTII’s academic and governing councils have discussed the matter and directed the institute to continue with online classes for the benefit of those students who are interested, he said, adding that the classes will continue for the duration they are planned.