The COVID Pandemic hit the world, and it took the rest of the world a month before it was declared a pandemic.
With an underprepared health systems Doctors, Frontline Health Workers, paramedics, it is much more complex to manage the situation like in India, where population and population densities in Urban India is high. While improvement in Health systems, availability of number of testing kits, quarantine hospitals have increased, The number of infections, and the number of fatalities are only increasing and currently at alarming numbers.
This has interrupted life as normal, and also interrupted the entire education system; from early childhood education to school education to higher education. It is uncertain when they will open. And even if they do, parents and families will be wary of sending their children to schools. The government Schools contribute to largest share of school Education.
The children in urban, in upper middle income group can afford computers and internet connection to benefit from online education. The effectiveness of online teaching-learning practices are evolving, but most schools have an online program. Given that the pandemic will stay on for a few more months, the choices are Homeschooling or online education.
While the children are at home,with their family members, there is a lot of teaching-learning that happens at home. Anyway, a child does not stop learning, because they are inherently curious. When the kids at home are actively involved, they learn more.
My own personal experience is that, in the process of teaching my Grandchild, I am learning a lot myself. The energy, innocence, the attention spans being relative lesser when compared to older children, we learn a lot of patience and a greater sense of satisfaction. The social skills they acquire by interacting with other children of the same group is mitigated to a certain extent.
Given the spread of the Pandemic, it is probable that 2020-2021 Academic year is a washout? unless of course a vaccine becomes available quickly.
Let us look at all the key stakeholders involved in planning, development and in strategising for transforming education from a templatised and regimented system, that we have created for ourselves and we have become prisoners of it.
I was reflecting on how were the classrooms were configured when I went school 1971-1979. How were the class rooms configured when my daughter went to school, nothing had changed except that it was more students in a classroom.
How is it looking today with myself being involved in running a school?
It still looks the same in how classrooms are designed and arranged, except that there is availability of smart digital content, interactive white boards, well prepared lesson plans etc, There are more outdoor activities and learning events, Innovation centre etc that make learning that much more interesting.
Can we provide a similar experience at Home? In our school, we have designed numerous learning activities that fit a Kit. Similarly a complementary kit will also be made available to the teachers. So, apart from having to watch a lecture of a teacher they have access to interactive worksheets and also perform the learning activities provided in the kit.
During this period while we can make online learning interesting, not only curriculum based, but invite experts in different fields to do interactive webinars. I am sure it will also help parents unlearn and learn more out of these webinars.
While there is a fear of the Virus, we cannot stop life whether it is an online business or a manufacturing setup. We have to run our businesses with utmost care to by implementing SOPs. Digital and online businesses prefer to work from home. Lower risk.
The Government schools in Rural Areas and semi-urban areas where a lot of basic wants potable water, living facilities are still found wanting, this is the right time for Governments to plan for bringing a transformation. The Delhi Government schools have done it. Why cannot the other state Governments use the same model.
Instead what do we accomplish in bleeding HONEST and TRANSPARENT privately unaided schools?
The core problem is that privately unaided schools have created a perception of money making machines. It is partly true. But many such great Schools are run with passion and a constant perseverance to differentiate themselves and stand out, create a benchmark. Instead of harassing all schools at the mercy of the bureaucracy, should India fail its fundamental Right to Education Act.
The Government has to articulate a clear policy for private unaided schools and give them the freedom to improve quality of education, and in the meantime upgrade government schools.
The School Ownership, the Educators, teachers, parents and most importantly today’s children are the Nation’s treasure. Let us nurture this network.
If we bounce back and deliver high quality school education, by a providing them some time and space to make children innovative and creative giving, we will be installing a sense of pride, good value systems, that will carry into Further Education and University Education. By doing these we can retain great minds and talents in India They are going to other countries for better Higher Education with Research projects.
The New India should transform the education and skill training system. “make doing business easier” and also make “conducting life easier. It is a big reformation, but it has to be thought through and planned now, otherwise we will lose the opportunity for the next Generation also.