Will learning clusters work?

Right from the day lockdown started, Schools in India have been shut. And I am sure this must have happened in other countries too. Some countries tried to open up, and the typical case of a school opening up in the USA did result in local outbreaks.

In India, most states have decided to postpone the reopening of schools until the end of December 2020, until further orders. While online learning has been a quick fix, our creative team designed an idea of providing nicely boxed and Branded tool kits. Teacher tool kits to the teachers and the learner school kits to students of different age groups. The learning activities that are part of the kit comprising of interesting work books, and the materials that the students would need to perform learning activities in the kit. We encourage a parent to accompany the child during these lessons so that there is a sense of partnership and collaboration that develops amongst key stakeholders.]If there are lingering problems that a particular child learner may have, during the sessions can be easily solved by the participating parent.

There numerous pre-schools and KG schools have emerged in the proximity colonies. They are usually Neighbourhood learning centres. There are plenty of them branded to unbranded, who have shut shop. These places are available at convenient locations in the neighbourhood.

The benefits are that public transport or school buses are not required. One of the parents can drop them, participate if they want, and collect them and take them home on completion.

The teachers, the parents, and the children should not be infected. Since the numbers are small, It can be organised that all the key stakeholders are frequently RTPCR tested.

There are many neighbourhood facilities that are available, where they can be redesigned keeping in mind the next higher age group, but limiting the teachers, and the students, to ensure social distancing is possible to implement, and all the SOPs,

Our conventional education model is that of bringing children to large school campuses in buses, and at the end of the day deliver them safely at their respective homes.

Instead, if the same school can create clusters of neighbourhood learning centres, where commute by buses or public transport in shunned. Limited students, limited teachers, modified facilities, designed for slight higher age groups, maybe Grades 1-3. Each good composite school will require multiple such locally accessible centres near their living areas. Again limited commute. Heath checks for all students and teacher. Some lessons can still continue to be delivered by a central studio in the main school premises.

Sanitisation and Hygienic practices are implemented and certified by local health authorities as safe, for each of the neighbouring learning centres.

Such small schools are shut and are available in many numbers in every area. It can even be properly certified by the local school and health authorities.

A proper K-12 school can become a cluster of schools in different living areas, thus making safe education possible with minimal risks. We can call ‘The Big schools now creating “clusters of schools “. In such a model, the teacher-parent partnership will be stronger. The student-teacher bonding will be higher, and more importantly, the peer group interactions will not only help children learn faster but strengthen the “connect” between themselves. They can still stay in touch with teachers and fellow students from home, using internet infrastructure.

This model ensures relatively higher safety, provides the real-world education experience, with all precautions in place. If we do economics it may be less expensive than, regular large school complexes.

Given that we are now facing the second COVID spike, and the vaccinations are 6 -10 months away, it may be worth piloting this “Cluster” mode of smaller, safer learning environments, including labs, in your neighbourhoods.

I feel confident this model will work. we will try it out experimentally, will scale it. The Pre-schools and KG schools that are now shut, can make use of this opportunity to tie up with us, the Excel Public School.

Given that the second spike in the COVID19 Pandemic is yet to come. We may remedy at least a part of the year, using school clusters,

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About the author

D Sudhanva is the founder and CEO at Excelsoft Technologies, a globally renowned eLearning Solutions Company. With a focus on transforming education across the world, Sudhanva has steered Excelsoft to be a thought leader in Education Technology with robust products delivering innovative solutions.

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