COVID-19 has impacted a wide range of industries. Among them, school education has been one of the most severely impacted. The dropout rate is at an all-time high.
India's education system has long been marred by recurrent access challenges, learning gaps, inadequate infrastructure, and a skewed curriculum. The epidemic exacerbated the situation.
In terms of education, India is currently in the most difficult position it has ever faced. There are four major issues in school education:
1. Virtual schooling
In rural places, as many as 43% of parents reported the school did not send any online materials, and 36% stated their children did not have smartphones. According to the Annual State of Education Report 2021, 67.6% of students' households owned at least one Android phone.
Students in online classrooms aren't always on time. It is difficult for a teacher to ensure 100% participation in class. A clear digital divide has emerged as a result of the pandemic. Once schools begin, this barrier will be bridged.
2. Significant learning gap
Azim Premji University conducted a study that found startling findings about learning loss. "90% of pupils have lost at least one linguistic ability and 80% of students have lost at least one arithmetic ability" under COVID-19, according to the report. The State Council of Educational Research and Training devised 'Bridge Courses,' but they were ineffective.
There would be huge learning poverty in India if schools remain closed. "Learning poverty in India is likely to rise from 55 percent to 70 percent," warned the World Bank's Education Director recently. In India, continuing to close schools will result in an immeasurable loss of learning.
3. Negative effects on students' mental health
During the epidemic, students experienced extraordinary social and emotional circumstances. Students in cities have been taught to suppress their natural tendencies. Their physical and mental health has suffered as a result of increased screen time, lack of physical activity, lack of socialisation, and addiction to social media.
4. Putting teachers to work in non-teaching positions
There is one permanent teacher for every 120 students in one of Pune's government schools. In a virtual classroom, how can a teacher manage 120 students? In the event of a pandemic, how would s/he combine her/his non-teaching work with teaching?
5. Students are divided into buckets based on their grade level
The Maharashtra government has created a 45-day bridge course to address learning gaps this year. It's difficult to bridge two years in 45 days.
During these two years, the majority of kids lost their fundamental literacy and numeracy (FLN). Expecting kids to perform well in their classes has no significance and has no positive results. It's a good idea to divide the pupils into groups based on their abilities.
The local government has the authority to establish community schools. These schools can be held in any community hall, temple, or open place where 5-10 students can congregate rapidly while maintaining social distance.
Differentiated learning is a priority at our school. We have three groups of pupils in the same grade, high-middle-low rigour students, high-middle-low rigour students, and low-middle-low rigour children. We are seeing an increase in FLN levels of involvement. We're going to use the community hall for this.