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Thursday, August 6, 2020
Education Expert View

Lockdown Blues: Spread of Pandemic on Education

pandemic on learning

Educationists in India were transiting into ICT world preparing themselves & students for 21st century. The unprecedented effect of pandemic on education can be gauged by school closures and hurried online lessons. Neither the teachers nor the students or parents were prepared for this. All the stake holders struggled at the beginning have gradually settled.

The buzzing word was–  can children be left without learning for 2-3 months or more? How will teachers get students back on the tracks with changed life style, habits, social isolation & emotional anxieties of children at all ages?

Teachers took up the challenge by preparing resources and providing guidance for remote learning, connecting with kids and their parents to make sure kids were ok. Govt school teachers as well as

Private school teachers took the measures to educate children through phone calls, voice messages, whats app, cable TV, radio, digital platforms, E-books etc.

 

The Dark Tunnel

Lots of challenges are before teachers, parents, students, management & government. Most of the parents are in support of online classes as they feel it a safe option but some resist it & few state govt have banned online teaching for Primary classes. With day by day increase in no. of positive COVID 19 cases, parents will not feel comfortable sending kids to schools even if schools re-open. As parents are we ready to  deprive our children of many learning experiences during COVID 19 or should we look towards online classes as alternative?

How long can students be left without academics and the other related activities they enjoy with learning? Parents need to understand that perfection cannot be expected in this situation when the effect of pandemic on learning is severe. Computers cannot replace teachers but in this situation priority of all is Child Safety & online learning is the only alternative.

Coming on the screens to teach online was not easy for teachers and especially within a short span.

To prepare online lessons, record videos or upload them on school portals, prepare online games & activities & PPT requires a lot of time & research. Teachers were brave enough to adapt to change. Teachers have been attending WhatSapp calls, sending feedback, sending assessments and correcting sheets at odd hours in spite of fixed online class timings thereby giving priority to their role as teacher. Their work is 24 hours. No family time is left for them. They are also insecure about their own future. Parents observing them while they teach and interfering with their teaching is quite difficult for them to handle.

The scenario today is while some parents are working from home, many of them have lost their jobs or have suffered loss in business. They are juggling between work from home and work for home, involving themselves in home schooling or online classes of their kids besides managing gadgets for these classes. They have financial insecurities too.

Children are stuck inside with no school and limited interaction. It is still uncertain when the schools will reopen, how will classes run? If at all ,will children attend school this year or will school open for middle & senior classes by 15th August or later? Will different States open their schools at the same time? Will schools run in two shifts or continue with partial attendance of students who will attend physical classes on alternative days?  Will all of the schools adapt to blended learning model ?

Many school leaders, management are collaborating to find answers to the challenges COVID-19 has imposed on education sector. Schools are anticipating a changed face of education as all know that COVID-19 will stay for some time albeit no one knows how long.

Instead of finding faults within teachers, parents should come forward to cooperate with teachers and schools. Parents should follow the schedule given by teachers. Parents should teach Screen Discipline to children and motivate them to submit assignments on time. Parents need to handle worries of children and take care of their well-being together with the teacher. Children should be taught responsibility, health & hygiene, wearing masks, physical distancing to for safety. Positive parent communication is vital to help students succeed.

Students are also under stress whatever age they may be. Younger ones are missing all the fun and physical movements while students studying in class XII are worried about the fate of their entrance exams and results.

The situation today demands good team-work, understanding & timely actions. We should all understand challenges of each-other and learn to fight them unitedly. If we keep fighting over issues like fee or continuation or cancellation of online classes etc, the sufferer will be none other than our children.

Many positive steps have been taken and more are required.  Government has already joined hands with Cable TV operators for facilitating best remote learning facilities to distant places also but more action is required. Norms for screen time teaching have to be worked out for all age levels. Cyber safety education is must for all. MHRD has also taken initiative to take care of mental health & give psychological support to children, teachers & families by the platform of Manodarpan but still more needs to be done.

Schools are not just for academics and teachers shape overall personality of children. Teachers are like candles who burn themselves to enlighten life of others. Talking negative about teachers or schools will create negative impressions on these young  and easily impressive minds. Let us be positive and see the best actions we can take for the future of our children.

These children are our leaders of tomorrow & we have to give them best. We need to educate them on responsibility, becoming good citizen, imbibing in them the values of gratitude, compassion, sharing, caring & love. Character building is most important in child’s life.

COVID-19 has also shown us the reality of uncertainty of life; we all have to accept that over certain situations we have no control and positive attitude is the way out.

Meenu Bhargava, Life-skills Trainer & Coach to Teachers, Parents & Students, Delhi. 

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