Re-examine patterns of education to close learning gaps

The Classrooms Are empty. Dirty chairs and tables collect cobwebs, as if time had forgotten. Teachers’ voices echoing letters and words in the Sing-Song Child Chorus have been replaced by pings of WhatsApp Forward. For the lucky ones whose parents have smartphones, these online messages come as trusted ambassadors who say Indian children are still learning.

The epidemic erupted in many ways that divided India. In urban encyclopedias, schools have only become slightly hiccuped to digital platforms because teachers quickly become skilled at converting their lessons online. In the vast rural areas of the country, only 4% of households have a computer, and the acquisition of learning is already a big concern, the picture is very blurry.

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The recently released Annual Status Education Report (ASER) shows that multiple hardships of migration, loss of livelihood and school closures further endanger the already fragile learning ability of rural children. The endless expectation of schools to reopen, the large-scale transition from private schools to public schools and the drop in the number of young women leaving the school indicates low enrollment, some may not return.

Indicate how easily teachers and administrators reach out to children to save the school year and prevent a major learning crisis without flooding the system, inadequate teacher training, lack of educational resources, and infrastructure gaps in how easily the country’s education network is at risk of being destroyed by unforeseen events. Fell.

However, what is the way? How can digital segregation and educational environments and capabilities be overcome so that children can continue their learning through the Kovid epidemic and continue to receive support once the restrictions are removed?

Think about Lotech: Reports from rural Maharashtra, who sit in socially remote communities, are heartfelt to receive lessons through the loudspeaker. These inspire us to think around the curriculum designed for delivery at scale on low-level technologies such as radio. It is easy to catch up with self-sustaining, hyper-local learning communities that integrate around such solutions.

Get Parents to Play: Studies around the world attest to the power of guiding play in improving learning. The idea of ​​investing a child’s natural instinct to learn through games is gaining currency in urban areas. However, parents in rural or low-resource homes tend to think of play and learning as two different areas of experience. By showing parents how to lead their children through play with commonly found objects at home and showing them how to work organically in their daily busy routines, we open the gin hall to learning opportunities that surround children wherever they are. Schools take some time to return to normal and parental involvement in learning is likely to stay here. Learning how to use the value of the game will empower sick parents to teach children. The hidden bonus of this approach is that children, families and entire communities stand to gain from the lasting socio-emotional benefits of bonds built on the game.

Mixed learning: Public schools in rural India have surpassed private schools in distributing textbooks and materials to their students through the epidemic. As access to smartphones increases, the incorporation of digital identification via picture recognition or QR codes opens virtual classrooms at times when physical classrooms are inaccessible or enhances learning for children with less reinforcement or guidance support at home.

Skills and equipping teachers: The ASER report shows that only one-third of children in rural areas were able to obtain any learning materials from their teachers. Interestingly, for those who did, over 60% of the materials that came in were shared via WhatsApp. Lack of resources and training will undoubtedly make it challenging for teachers in rural India to shift towards using technology to share learning materials. Partnerships between governments, academia and civil society make it easy to create and share mixed-media content, facilitate multi-sensory learning, and bridge this gap by creating feedback loops for assessment. Such methods can never replace the impact and motivation of human interaction, and investing in these methods ensures that teachers stay close to students and that learning continues despite frequent interruptions to school education in rural India.

These techniques are invaluable in ensuring that young children who emigrate to distant work places from time to time or temporarily with their parents are connected to a familiar learning ecosystem.

With the extreme hardships of the pandemic, it’s hard to think of a silver lining. But, like all interruptions, it forces us to rethink early education and question whether current models are still serving us or whether a better way out of this crisis can emerge.

Sonali Khan is the Managing Director of Sesame Workshop India. Her Twitter handle is onalsonalikhan

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