For better learning in the post-covid classroom

The Covid-19 pandemic is devastating to school children. Of the 265 million children in India who are enrolled in school, the majority have barely set foot in the classroom for almost two years.

Now that the school has reopened, the school must first warmly and comfortably welcome the children’s return. The classroom should be a safe and threat-free space where children can get rid of anxiety, stress and isolation over the last two years.

After an urgent urgent task, the urgent urgent task is to address the learning gap. Failure to do so will have an irreparable impact on children of this generation. Less than 12% of public schools have an internet connection, so the impact of E-content is minimal. Only 24% of families have a smartphone. Most poor families do not have a TV. Therefore, with the reopening of school, a large basic instruction and revision program is needed in the first year to help elementary school students develop their reading skills. Older children can also settle into school rhythms without stress. Public schools need to institutionalize this revision and support program to close the learning gap before embarking on a new phase of the syllabus.

Similarly, we need to solve the basic systematic problems of weak learning and unimaginable curriculum. Many children in low-income households struggle with basic reading and writing and math skills beyond the age of eight, primarily due to their obsession with memorization and misguided focus, further exacerbating this situation. What causes them is mismanagement and lack of accountability in the state’s education sector. School education is more than just monitoring numbers. Student registration, teacher appointments, textbook distribution, lunch offerings, building construction, toilet construction and more.

These are required, but basic minimal inputs. School education needs to aim for more. Also, marks and test scores are not a correct measure of system effectiveness. The real goal of education is to strengthen cognitive development and creative thinking.

The starting point for improving quality is to focus on meaningful learning. This requires the school education department to work closely with teachers to improve teaching practices and shift focus from a rigorous curriculum. For this reason, teachers need to be given greater autonomy in the classroom.

Will such readjustment further exacerbate the gap between children in poor and wealthy families? On the surface it is. However, Brazilian educational philosopher Paulo Freire overturned mainstream pedagogy by already pointing out his knowledge and expertise in his classic pedagogy of the oppressed of low-income households. Children learn complex and subtle learning from experience and everyday environments. Traditional thinking assumes that the educator is an expert and the student is an empty and passive receiver. According to Freire, this idea is a “free educator” teacher who helps children deepen their knowledge and understanding. One way to achieve this is for schools to incorporate powerful regional elements within a common curriculum framework. Teachers need space for creativity and a more free classroom environment.

In addition to curriculum reform, educational practices need to change. India has 1 million public schools and 5 million public school teachers. Training teachers to change teaching practices poses considerable challenges and requires budgetary efforts and well-trained teachers. Being modest, teachers are primarily drawn from executives of education managers.

In addition to the above supply-side recommendations for instruction, pedagogy, curriculum reform, and training, the demand-side needs to be addressed. Parents of low-income families perceive public school education as of little value, creating a sense of indifference and resignation. In addition, there is little social pressure on the state to improve the quality of education as wealthy educated parents send their children to private schools. However, as shown in some states, poor quality perceptions can change quickly. , Public school facilities such as Kerala and Delhi are equivalent, and exam grades are improving. A fascinating physical school environment can be inadequate to change long-standing perceptions.

In addition to the regular curriculum, providing activities that enrich and enjoy the school experience will allow children to attend school and have fun participating. Reorganizing school days is worth it, at the expense of reducing the time it takes to teach in a formal classroom. Along with the formal curriculum, we have shifted our focus to providing an overall education by spending time on activities such as arts, music and sports.

In particular, school governance reforms and teacher motivation are key factors in improving quality. As educators are obsessed with supply chain management issues, academic management and supervision require dedicated executives. The main problem with public school teachers is that teachers are often forced to take advantage of political influence and fall to place them wherever they like. Safety and convenience must also be priorities, as the number of women working as primary school teachers is skyrocketing. Transparency Posting and forwarding fairness is essential to motivate teachers and improve performance.

(Kaul is a former IAS officer and former secretary of school education for the Government of Karnataka. Mahadevan-Dasgupta is an IAS officer and former chief secretary for the development of women and children of the Government of Karnataka)


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