Students from different schools across the country were eagerly waiting for almost a year to visit school. Initially, online education was a matter of thrill for them. But slowly they had to deal with the challenges of online classes also. Moreover, a large number of students were precluded from online access due to Covid- 19 pandemic effects on their families. Though online education, connect to continue has become a new normal during the Covid- 19 situation. Students have suffered due to the lack of supportive infrastructure. There was also a lack of psychological preparedness of parents, teachers as well as themselves.
Smile Foundation Survey on Online Education
A nationwide sample survey conducted by Smile Foundation shows that only about 40% of students have proper material access to continue online education. This opportunity has also gradually reduced due to income shrinkage, pandemic fatigue, uncertainty about income and life. Constant community interactions were conducted by different social organizations including Smile Foundation. It reflected that the students were eagerly waiting to go back to school. Physical copies of books are more tempting to them than the video and pictorial explanation of the course curriculum.
Smile Foundation Cluster Classes
Community-based cluster classes were conducted by Smile with proper social distancing. These cluster classes gave a sense of School activity. They recreated the feeling of a classroom by joyfully and meaningfully engaging students. These classes show a change among the students during the period, November 2020 to February 2021. It has also included all the students who were not in a touch with online education effectively. It has also strengthened the process of bringing back students to School.
Going Back to School
Internationally it has been observed that when schools reopen after a long gap, enrolment has been highly affected. This is a common phenomenon, especially in developing countries. 25% of students in Sierra Leone and 13% of students in Liberia did not return to school after the Ebola outbreak. Girls’ participation is even more at risk. In Liberia, the number of girls out of school was 3 times higher compared with pre-Ebola numbers. In Sierra Leone’s most affected communities, girls were 16% less likely to be in school after reopening. According to preliminary estimates by UNESCO, 24 million children and youths from preprimary to tertiary levels may be at risk of not returning. But in India especially in the Govt. school different individual study has shown the reverse trend. Students are joining school more than expected and the enrolment rate is better.
On-Ground implementation of RTE
During the school closure period Smile Foundation with its partners worked together towards the implementation of the RTE mandate. This was done for proper infrastructural facility development for creating a conducive learning environment. It includes safe and adequate drinking water facility, separate toilets for boys and girls, etc. These steps have also revamped the picture of the Govt. schools. The present scenario of the Govt. schools in terms of facility and wholehearted online support from the teachers during the lock-down period have made the schools a most preferred destination for children. As per the MHA and Ministry of Education SOP to reopening of the school classes are to be conducted on alternative days. Though it is between 30 to 50% in terms of attendance, it has been seen about 80% of the student are attending schools. Though we are waiting for a nationwide comprehensive study to reach a final conclusion.
To support Smile Foundation’s cluster classes and help underprivileged children visit https://www.smilefoundationindia.org/me/