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Educational challenges to be addressed in a coordinated manner

By Mrinalini Singh,

Introduction of new-age online session technology has become imperative.

It is imperative for the parents to understand what their responsibilities and roles are during the ongoing pandemic period, writes principal Mrinalini Singh.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented crisis in all areas. Specifically in the field of education, this emergency has led to multiple challenges due to closure of educational institutions across the world. Most governments around the world have temporarily closed schools in order to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Moreover, looking at various waves of its spread experienced in the recent past as well as vaccination for the children nowhere in near sight, it can be safely assumed that the virus is here to stay. We need to learn ways to live with it. Challenges are opportunities as well. These few ways evolved and have been established as the new normal for schools towards providing continued learning and assessments.

1. Education services through various distance learning modalities
A few institutions have implemented internet-based forms of learning and some have established offline, distance learning strategies. There are schools which have adopted both online as well as distance learning strategy.

2. Introduction of new-age online session technology
Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc.

3. Providing resources (devices like laptops or tablets) & training
To carry out distance learning activities, teachers should be given training resources , especially with regard to tools for the use and management of information and communication technologies .

4. Curriculum adjustments and prioritization
The contextualization needed to ensure that the contents are relevant to the current emergency situation, based on consensus among all relevant stakeholders. Equally important, these adjustments must prioritize the competencies and values that have come to the fore in the current situation, namely solidarity, self-directed learning, care for oneself and others, social-emotional skills, health and resilience, among others.

5. Integrate the contents and learning objectives into interdisciplinary thematic clusters
It allows various subjects to be addressed at the same time through topics that are particularly pertinent and relevant for pupils in the current context, using project or research methodologies that allow for a joined-up approach to learning. Under this approach, value must be attached to teachers’ independence and to developing complex competencies among teachers.

6. Counselling sessions for parents
Due to lockdowns and widely prevalent work-from-home policies of various organisations, suddenly the parents have started spending more time at home with children. Also, with restrictions on movement outside, children hardly get to meet their friends in person. Hence, it is imperative for the parent to understand what their roles and responsibilities are during this period. How can they ensure digital detoxifications of self as well as children?

7. Tailoring assessment methods
Assessing and monitoring learning as well as providing feedback are important for understanding schoolchildren’s progress and taking appropriate pedagogical actions to improve it. The development of formative assessment and self-assessment instruments facilitates a collaborative process between teachers and students for evaluating their progress towards intended learning outcomes. Many institutions plan to cancel or postpone assessments, or to adopt alternative approaches and methodologies for testing and validating learning. The current situation is far from ideal in this regard, and we will have to give priority to greater objectives than the regular administration of assessment tools.

8. Enhancement of digital knowledge library
With increased online presence and limited physical presence, schools are enhancing their digital library access to improve self-learning by the students. The resources available on click of a button can range from recorded class session, E-Books, E-newspapers, research papers, project reports, etc.

In summary, the current Covid-19 pandemic poses significant challenges for education and social systems that must be addressed in a coordinated manner. It also offers valuable lessons on the real priorities of life as part of a community. Today, these challenges and lessons offer the prospect of rethinking the purpose of education and its role in sustaining human life and dignity so that no one is left behind.

Mrinalini Singh, principal, Yadu Public School, Noida. Views expressed are personal.