The School Reopening was Inevitable, Conventional Pedagogy Cannot be Replaced!

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  • After a long excruciating wait, the word pandemic is being replaced with endemicity by no less than the World Health Organization as the evolving situation in India promises lots of positives vis-à-vis the spread of the novel coronavirus. Except for still high infection rates witnessed in Kerala and to some extent in Maharashtra, the spread of the virus across the country appears to be subsiding. However, we know how complacency and disregard for the menacing spread of the virus played out during the devastating second wave. As such, none of us including the government authorities and related stakeholders can heave a huge sigh of relief till the last man standing receives a vaccination. Indeed, a long way to traverse to achieve the stated objectives.

PC: The Associated Press

  • In the interim, the economic activities had to kickstart at some point in time and the decentralization of the decision-making process at the state level for imposing or easing restrictions has had a huge role to essay on the matter. Consequently, many states are witnessing a welcome uptick in economic activities unlike the draconian national lockdown imposed during the first wave. Most hearteningly, the vaccination drive also shows signs of sustaining the momentum on the back of improved supply from the vaccine manufacturers. Against this backdrop, the Union Education Ministry’s advice to states to commence academics based on the prevailing infection rates makes imminent sense. Rightly, several states have followed suit by allowing schools to reopen.
  • The school-going children have suffered over the last year and a half is universally known. Online learning touted as an alternative has proved to be anything but effective rendering the whole exercise somewhat shambolic. It is depressing and extremely worrisome to note that only 12% of government schools possess internet facilities. Also, around 8% of rural students logging into online classes or 18% of students at Standard 9 and above indicate how farcical and ineffective virtual learning has been all these months. Add to it, the staggering number of school dropouts owing to mounting livelihood pressure to supplement the family income, the recipe for disaster particularly concerning those children lacking internet accessibility is monumental.

PC: Haider Rifaat

  • Of course, many children are thriving with remote learning and parents would prefer to continue the same rather than risk a Covid infection. However, the counterproductive effects of missing conventional classroom learning far outweigh the limited benefits of virtual mode, mostly to urban dwellers. There is another significant factor for consideration here i.e., an estimated 115 million children facing severe malnutrition because of the school closure can finally look forward to mid-day meals again. Apprehensive parents should also note that almost 80% of all teaching and non-teaching have received at least one vaccine dose and fully vaccinating them will happen sooner. Diligently following covid appropriate behavior should help the purpose. Finally, understand that education is also essential and hence, should be treated like one from now on.