The Covid pandemic created the biggest disruption in the Education sector. UNESCO in its observation said, “One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, close to half the world’s students are still affected by partial or full school closures, and over 100 million additional children will fall below the minimum proficiency level in reading as a result of the health crisis.” Moreover, there are not many studies exploring the kind of mental and psychological impact the pandemic imprinted among the children. We wanted to close this gap and so, an Education Survey by Smile Foundation was conducted to assess and analyse the ground issues related to learning.
Therefore, prioritising education recovery is crucial to avoid generational devastation. Learning loss due to Covid and its aftermath remains incalculable, and educational institutions across the globe and especially India got severely disrupted.
Amid uncertainty and educational policies that remain ineffective, (New Educational Policy, 2020) students’ learning loss is inevitable. From the mounting rates of students developing anxiety and depression to a learning loss that might not be mitigated in the future are some of the aftermaths of virus.
Education Survey by Smile Foundation- Need
Smile Foundation, a leading organisation in education sector reaching out to the most inaccessible population, had experienced the learning loss due to school closures and understood its severe repercussions to a child’s future. The foundation quickly commissioned a Nationwide survey to understand the factual situation.
The evidence-based survey was carried out in a scientific manner by a team of professional researchers covering the qualitative and qualitative aspects to understand the learning loss in age-appropriate learning, as well as to lay a recovering roadmap to fill in that gap and regain the lost ground in individual learning.
The main aspects of the survey were to:
- cover integrated curriculum consisting of cognitive and
- development domains of literacy, numeracy, creative expression, motor skills development,
- whole words, reading and listening comprehension, Grammar, Writing and speaking expressions.
Tools developed were administered with a wide range of education stakeholders, covering respondents like students, parents, teachers, head masters and educational experts.
Findings and Implications
Based on the findings of the Education Survey by Smile Foundation’s Mission Education team, we learnt that learning abilities of children were on a sharp plunge. Much damage had already been done; the sector must urgently work towards preventing it from getting worse. Thus, immediate remedial actions were taken up as part of ‘Shiksha Na Ruke’, and through it, we engaged the students, parents and academicians to adopt to the recommendations of the study and also come up with various child friendly approaches
Our Mission Education Centres offered:
Learning loss due to Covid has induced worry in the sector. The Smile Foundation is helping all school stakeholders (Teachers, Headmasters, Parents, Community etc.,) to help students to lessen the learning divide. Shifting from the traditional system, we adopted a multi-pronged approach of teaching through books, to learn via videos, activities, workbooks, introduction of value based educational sessions, provision of nutritious snacks, engaging parents etc. Few of the strategies devised and initiated among our ME Centres are:
- Adopted a hybrid model and shifted between online and offline mode whenever required without causing any learning loss. (using various free online platforms, keeping them abreast with any unforeseen eventualities)
- To finish the unfinished learning, they carried out bridge/remedial sessions/activities as a part of their curriculum, which helped students catch up on their lost learning.
- Formation of Student Clubs and encouraging them to re-engage them, for peer learning, sharing of notes, doing recreational and fun activities.
- Peer based learning – students who are faring well in academics were provided an opportunity to initiate peer-based learning. Student-to-Student learning are yielding rich dividends in terms of enhanced learning and motivation.
- Offers a curriculum supported by technology that makes a curriculum interesting so that parents don’t have to force their children to study.
- Regular parents-teachers’ meetings and staying in regular touch with parents to keep them updated about their child’s progress to fill the learning gaps
- We have ensured in-person learning and are leveraging technology for learning .
- The centre teachers were encouraged to attend orientation and training sessions, which were offered online, to help them speed up bridging the learning loss, and coping up with the paradigm shift from students offline-to-online and online-to-offline learnings.
- Also, to make the learning sessions more interesting to make them not fall prey to online addiction (an issue that many parents had complained about)
Responsibility of Social Development Organisations
Access to quality education was uneven even before the pandemic, and now it is even more so. Unprecedented times call for innovative solutions, like investing more in learning recovery, community engagement, using technology wisely will certainly yield fruitful results. Yes, it might seem like a herculean challenge to regain the lost ground.
However, as social development professionals we need to be profound in our approaches of improving the situation as well be optimistic that certainly we can use this lost time to the advantage of children and see this pandemic experience as a catalyst of renewed energy.
You can become an active part in changing the lives of kids in need through Smile Foundation’s flagship initiative, Mission Education (ME). A stronger, brighter and hopeful India depends on the future of kids. All of us should do our part in making their dreams possible.