The last couple of months have been overwhelming with news and pictures of the happy reopening of schools across India. As educationists, we know that life is not the same for a child who is joining back school after an unexpectedly long period of almost two years. The first-timers entered Class 1 with their excitement and fear of the new experience called school life.
Shutdown of Schools
School is an integral and core element in a child’s life and the sudden closure was followed by the initiation of remote classes through digital modes, teleconferencing, and educational programs run on television and radio. The absence of social interactions, the precautions taken to protect children from the virus and the learning gaps might have long-term repercussions in a child’s life. As per the UN report ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on children’ dated April 2020, even though the children were largely spared from the direct health effects of COVID-19, the crisis could leave a profound effect on their wellbeing. All children, of all ages, are being affected, in particular by the socio-economic impact and, in some cases, by mitigation measures that may inadvertently do more harm than good.
However, Smile Foundation’s Mission Education programme made efforts to help children continue the learning process without interruption. On reopening of schools, children have been provided with access to quality learning resources and facilities. This process is enhanced with inclusion of value education, celebration of events and important days, focus on hygiene and health, nutrition and extra-curricular sessions on spoken English, personality development, career guidance, yoga, etc. These encourage and motivate children to be positive, engage in good hygienic habits and stay healthy and happy.
The Learning Graph
The stark difference in learning approaches of remote and in-school learning are quite evidently indicated through the impact on the learning levels in children, especially in foundational classes. The major outcomes observed are lower levels of understanding in students on concepts and basics, which is a matter of concern. Although the children received access to many free online learning platforms and videos, there are students who were not able to follow a routine, or were uncomfortable following the content and flow of the materials. Eventually, this would lead to losing interest or the required momentum to continue following online resources. Furthermore, with parents restarting work, intermittent internet connectivity, inadequate data pack and over-dependence on digital resources, added on to the irregular schedule of learning process and environment for the students.
Therefore, the immediate task at hand for schools and teachers was to make the children comfortable coming to school and welcome them to an exciting fun learning environment. At Mission Education centres, teachers ensured that the child should enter and stay in a hygienic and safe learning place. The children’s mental wellbeing was assessed and a vibrant ambience was created in the schools. Teachers put in their best efforts so that children maintain social distancing, wear masks, keep their hands sanitised and, above all, look forward to coming to school every day.
It’s School Time…Again!
Reopening of schools has evoked a sense of hope for the distraught learning status of children across the country. Parents, teachers and students have welcomed the decision of letting children attend school with a sense of caution and preparedness, believing it is best for the child. For a nation, with a growing population of 1.4 billion and growing, the pandemic definitely has caused setbacks and unintended delay in helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. But, with the continued efforts of the entire Mission Education team, we are trying to reach out to the thousands of children who were bereft and left out of the learning process and bring them back into a better, progressive and enhanced education fold.
Read more about Smile’s efforts to welcome back children to school: https://donate.smilefoundationindia.org/shiksha-na-ruke