As schools and colleges are shut across India, every abode is becoming a school and every parent is at the verge of becoming a full-time teacher!
India has nearly 300 million kids in 1.4 million schools and 51,000 colleges.
While a nationwide lockdown is good for all in limiting the spread of the coronavirus, it has impacted not only businesses and common people but also education and teaching institutes.
Some schools are trying their best to provide online classes through various video conferencing apps but it’s not available to all. The rural schools and parents are devoid of these facilities. In urban areas as well, some of the versatile and experienced teachers are facing the problem to teach and express themselves as they do on a regular basis- due to the lack of knowledge about handling these technologies competently.
Many nuclear families are also facing problems in coping up with their work as parents are doing their work from home only and one can’t help but get engaged with their child at times along with the office work and household chores. The playtime and me-time are getting merged with school time and there is no any specific boundary between bedroom and classroom.
Then there is another difficulty for parents who are not educated enough to teach their children on their own. Although they try to make and manage a routine and are eager to help but they can’t help much in the studies and find themselves helpless. Students as well are facing problems in keeping the pace of their studies as they are getting limited time with their teachers through video lectures and their homework has somehow become the class work with the relief of not getting punished for any incomplete task, the oral tests and vivas has stopped. A con for sure!
In the last few days, eventually the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) and various other regulators including CBSE, NCERT, etc. have shown some enthusiasm to find productive alternatives to ensure the continuation of education.
NCERT has released an Alternative Academic Calendar for four weeks of home-based activities for different subjects. For example, activities like categorizing objects including erasers, pencils, cloth, pulses, etc. to teach the concepts of colors, shapes and sizes have been suggested for the students of class I-IV.
For upper-class students, teachers will be conducting classes through internet-based platforms, in the absence of which SMS can be sent. Here, as well the basic problem faced by the lower-middle-class families is either they are not well-informed about the internet and technology or, if they know how to handle it, there is limited internet availability.
There is an even more basic issue at stake for rural people, the closure of schools has serious implications on the daily nutrition of students as the mid-day meal schemes have temporarily been shut. As of March 31, 2019, close to 12 crore students across the country were provided with food under with mid-day meal schemes.
Some state governments have come up with innovative ideas to address this concern.
The Delhi government has discussed an interesting idea to provide data packages to the students of class X and XII. Use of the internet can be restricted to specific applications prepared by the government.
Similarly, another interesting idea has been introduced in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar which is planning to use Doordarshan, All India Radio and community radio to promote audio-based learning among students who do not have access to the internet.
The standards are regular yet not entirely proportional to the basic knowledge that we often get out of the volumes!