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Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Expert View

Education In Pandemic

E Prasad Rao, Chairman, Paramita Group of Schools, Karimnagar, Telangana,

By Dr. E. Prasadrao, Chairman, Paramita Group of Schools, Karimnagar, Telangana.
Corporates, HR Managers, Motivational speakers and civil society refer to the word “Positive” not infrequently to inspire and enrich human life. Yes , positive, positivity, positivism and positive energy have been our verbal diet. The much sought after and oft spoken word “Positive” has suddenly become inimical to the humans and the culprit is covid-19. Today, we dread the word positive and are scrambling for ‘Negative ‘ in our PCR test reports. How things can change dramatically and perceptions are shifted at an alarming speed are puzzling indeed! The goal post change of the words positive and negative notwithstanding, can
positive be negative? …….certainly not. Through tragically, the excruciating pain being experienced and the lives being lost with the pandemic playing the role of a rogue across geographical boundaries making life and living hard, we exude confidence and trust in our ability to survive and march ahead with ‘ Hope ‘ The pandemic has caused severe damage to the economy, business houses, small businesses, industries, aviation, hospitality, tourism and agricultural sectors. One of the most severely affected disciplines is education. As students learn in the new normal, can we as a nation afford to ignore irreparable learning gaps and learning poverty among large student populace? Should education and educating students be left to Governments alone? Or can we reimagine our role?
The year that went by witnessed a massive disruption in learning in students belonging to BPL families, unorganized labour in towns and countryside, courtesy enormous digital divide, lack of access to technology and net connectivity, besides appalling apathy and inconsiderateness of the knowledge society. This has come at a huge loss of “Quality, Equity & Reach” which have become decorative expressions in conferences and webinars. Identifying quality may be fundamental, but EOI – expression of intent is a precursor to ‘Game changer’. Can we as a nation of people give cold shouldered response to such a humongous task of universal education constitutionally guaranteed to every child. Inclusion should not end in exclusion.
However, what is conspicuously discernible is how our teaching fraternity and schools have assumed a new avatar and reached out to children accepting the challenge posed by the raging Pandemic. Every crisis throws new opportunities and new learnings. Teachers and schools opened themselves to new possibilities and ensured quality learning is made at homes – the manner in which curriculum and technology were integrated speaks volumes of being positive in a tough situation like the present one. Teachers and institutions have come of age in rapid quick time and seized the moment to provide spaces for learning. Flipping of learning has stood out with students owning and driving learning in both synchronous and asynchronous modes. The new normal has facilitated the practitioners to create new learning pathways. It is a pleasant surprise that we have experienced pedagogy drive
curriculum with the aid of technology which has ensured meaningful lively and engaging moments of learning. The pandemic has opened the ‘Gateway’ to a new paradigm in education. The stakeholders connect is a big breakthrough wherein schools, teachers and guardians engage in frequent and deeper conversations in order to create new spaces for students to engage and explore new learnings and express their understanding and discoveries which have so far been mostly elusive in a majority of the cases whereas it is routine and celebratory in select schools. Teaching less and enabling students to learn more is fast catching up. Techno-pedagogy is making curriculum delivery relevant and a happening thing – it is no longer a business of transaction, but we are able to see transformation. Transforming students, teachers
and schools can be a distinct possibility should the stakeholders continue to deliberate, discuss and deliver ‘ Quality ‘ , ‘Equity’ and ‘Reach’. All these are possible when our kids have freedom to employ their thinking, deploy tools, apply the knowledge and reply not only to the questions in the text but also to their inquisitiveness, an offspring of ‘insight’. A major shift in our perception and approaches to education is a happening thing though gradually and selectively. We as a community of educators and guardians
latch on to it and help build amazing learning spaces for children. If you have already done it, pat yourself , if not, begin today. Let’s be “Positive”.

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