The two telecom operators offer eight data packages for students (File Photo)

Chhimi Dema

Student data plans initiated to facilitate online learning during the pandemic are of little use, say many students.

Introduced in May, there are eight student data plans from the two telecom operators in the country.

Through the data plans, only e-learning sites (YouTube, Google Classroom, G-Suite, Moodle, e-Library, B-Trowa and Zoom) were accessible by the students.

The packages are available for students of both public and private schools from 7am to 6pm.

A college student said: “The limited access to sites does not help while doing online research.”

A teacher, Kinley Dema, said that many students were not even aware of the data plans.

“Although we registered all the students for the data plan with the education ministry, students were not keen on using it,” Kinley Dema said. “Many students do not know how to access Google Classroom. We had to connect them through social media apps like WeChat and WhatsApp.”

Tandin Penjor, a student, said that he did not know about the student data plans. He said he subscribed to the 99 data package for online learning.

Tshomo, a teacher from Dagana, said that many students complained that they could not use the student data plans because of the timing.

“Students were not able to use the student data plan because parents took the phones away while leaving for work. Students could access the internet only for an hour or so,” she said.

Tenzin Om, a student, said that increasing the data volume for other plans would be helpful.

TashiCell’s general manager, Namgay Wangchuk, said that the subscription had reduced significantly.

“We are expecting further reduction in the subscription as the volume of normal data plans have increased with the revision since November 11,” he said.

TashiCell has about 37,000 student data plan subscribers.

The student data plans were not popular as other plans because of lack of awareness on how to register for the offer, he said.

For sites such as YouTube, Google Classroom, Moodle, eLibrary (MoE), Zoom and BTrowa the requirement of internet speed was even higher, he added.

This, he said, is one of the main reasons why TashiCell had to restrict the usage of student plan from 7am to 12 initially “as we see congestion in network resources toward evening until dawn.”

The usage timing has been increased from 7am to 5pm now.