: The Hindu
Relevance – School education needs drastic reforms to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on education.
If school education revert to business as usual, India has to be prepared to confront a disaster in educational outcomes
Schools have been closed for 16 months now, with no clarity on or a timeline for their resumption as yet. The country has promoted online classes and e-connectivity as the solution.
- The majority of the states focus on secondary and higher secondary education. However, due to a lack of connectivity as well as a lack of access to e-devices, only a fraction of children in this age group have had online education of any kind.
- When it comes to children in the primary and upper primary classes, even such access has been limited to a minuscule fraction.
Challenges in education during and after the pandemic:
- Challenges in online education:
- The quality of online education — it is largely abysmal. As most studies show, the percentage of teachers in the country capable of handling digital platforms for pedagogic purposes is very small.
- The educational material provided by them has also been mere reproduction of what is used in a physical classroom. Hence, the teaching-learning processes have by and large been poor.
- When schools reopen, Indian schools revert to business as usual, this will create certain challenges. Such as,
- With a reduced syllabus, and no change whatsoever in the overall curriculum or pedagogy, and racing through the syllabus to “catch up”. Children who cannot keep up would simply be left behind.
- Children from the poorest sections will be the ones who are affected the most, by having to race in accelerated learning programmes with no support at home. This will create an alienation of already marginalised students.
Various studies on education during the pandemic:
- A study in the Netherlands has found that most learning losses occurred “among students from disadvantaged homes”. Researchers have also termed this as nutrition loss and learning loss.
- A large multi-State study in the United States records that the pandemic “has also prompted some students to leave the public school system altogether”.
- According to a study by the Azim Premji Foundation in India, 92% of children on average have lost at least one specific language ability from the previous year across all classes; the figure is 82% when it comes to mathematical ability.
Suggestions to improve education and global examples:
- ‘One way of addressing the learning crisis might be to repeat the entire academic year. For instance, The government in Kenya has recently decided to do just this. Some countries, such as the Philippines, allow extended time for classes on resumption, both in the duration of school hours and more calendar days of interaction.
- To reduce and synthesize the curriculum so that students are able to focus on a few subjects and learn them well’. For example, this is followed, for instance, by the State of Ontario in Canada.
- Introducing the concept of One-to-one tutoring for the most disadvantaged learners. For example, the National Tutoring Programme of the UK and a similar programme in Ghana were done this.
- In Italy, university students are volunteering to conduct one-on-one classes for middle school children from poor immigrant backgrounds