While I analyze our educational environment I think of evolution of eggs to embryos leading to delivery. The COVID-19 pandemic has given life to many concepts that were lying dormant, literally ‘hatching eggs’. Earlier we were all talking about ushering in an IT revolution in education as if it was a distant dream. We had white papers submitted in government offices gathering dust with their hopeful authors sliding from optimism to despondency over the years. For over a decade we spoke of remote learning, introduction of apps and online classes, examinations & assessments in a very conceptual theoretical manner. In fact during seminars whenever these subjects were discussed, the audience used to start thinning out with participants taking a break for phone calls or a cup of tea. Most of us thought it was something that we all need not make the effort to understand since either it was too complicated or unnecessary.
So what has changed? We were forced to be distanced from each other for far too long. We could no longer have assemblies, staff meetings and classes. We couldn’t even take a flight at the drop of a hat for conferences and seminars. A new star was born like a premature child which is the web seminar or webinar. In the beginning we kept a webinar alive with lots of difficulties such as registration, logging in, low bandwidth, wifi and hotspot. Now I attend simultaneous webinars; one on the phone and one on the laptop. I have delivered presentations to schools all across Madhya Pradesh in 200 different locations for nine hours on one day. This was appreciated and viewed by all sections and sectors across M.P. The very next day I was in discussion with teachers in Russia, UK, Poland, UAE and Serbia. Would I have ever done that earlier? I realized that I am working much more than what I earlier did. Earlier I tired myself out travelling but now I can conserve my energy and involve myself in more endeavors than before.
What was most heartening to see was the role reversal between teachers and students. Students have taken to technology like fish to water while teachers have struggled. We had to learn, change our pedagogy, accept the sometimes insurmountable constraints and ultimately present a new face. We have set the ball rolling albeit uphill. It has taken a lot of effort to bring all stakeholders online. Now we have the greater challenge of reopening classrooms not to mention the greatest challenge of collecting fees and paying all the employees.
When the New Education Policy was rolled out, everyone commented that it was long overdue. I however knew deep inside that it would have certainly been delayed much further in normal circumstances. In the current crisis, the worst affected age group is students who have faced the longest layoff in history. However since every dark cloud has a silver lining, many changes that the new policy intends, can be put into effect more easily due to the luxury of more available time.
During childbirth we can’t bypass any stage between the egg and final delivery. Likewise I worry about exams, assessments, evaluation and promotion before we restart. Although we assume that promotion is a foregone conclusion, the big question is whether it is correct to start teaching in the next grade when we are not certain about the learning outcomes of the previous grade? After all there is a continuum associated with learning which I feel should not be broken.
Happy that new education policy is not at all involving the rote learning method , 21st Century skills are been talked about now in Rural India , emphasis on skills creativity , entrepreneurship, global citizenship
The Preschool Segment is included in the education policy and we have a full department as not M.H.R.D but as Education Ministry .
Happy to see and welcome this new N.E.P.