By Sheikh Qayoom
Delhi/Srinagar, April 30 (IANS) One of the worst hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the education sector of India. A recent survey across 161 districts of the country shows that parents in 8,500 households have been looking for laptops for their children, all this in an attempt to fight the interruption in school education caused by the pandemic. This national priority has prompted the creation of the FICCI alliance for re-imagining school education (ARISE).
Manit Jain, chairman FICCI ARISE spoke to IANS in detail about the initiative which is a collegium of stakeholders representing different facets of private school education.
Asked why does an initiative like ARISE focus its effort only on private school education, Jain said, “50 per cent school children in the country are en rolled in different private schools. Yet, our focus does not exclude the government run schools. We are in touch with the administrators of these school s to work out a similar initiate by ARISE for the government run schools as well”.
He said the current pandemic has severely hit both private and government ed ucation sectors. He said professionals across the World have adapted themselves to a work-from-home model, however, one of the biggest concerns is what happens to children and their ongoing education. Most parents are of the opinion that they may not be able to send their children to school for a long ti me even when the lockdown is lifted.
“We have the technological support of Microsoft, Google and some other major players, been able to start online classes across 19 states in the country to begin with. Online training workshops have been held for teachers and school administrators to bring them upto date with various programmes and apps to start online classes.
“These classes are now going on in 19 states of the country and we shall be expanding our online teaching reach to include other states, union territories and schools.
“It is encouraging that the attendance at our online classes is 90 per cent. One big advantage is that because of the lockdown, parents are around when online classes are held and they supervise the learning processes of their children”.
Asked whether or not the holding of online classes put pressure on teachers, who like other citizens, are stressed due to the prevailing situation, Jain said, “Very relevant question. We are holding regular Yoga, unwinding and recreational sessions for the teachers. In fact, our feedback has been that the teachers agree that their delivery is more than what normally happens in the traditional blackboard, pen and paper classroom environment.
How do online classes move beyond theory and what can substitute the experiments in lab and ground learning?
“We have to continuously evolve and innovate, develop apps, programmes and technological breakthroughs those will make lab and ground learning possible through online classes. In fact, countries like Sweden have made giant stride s in this direction,” he said.
Asked how does he see the future of online learning in school education after the lockdown is lifted and normalcy returns, he said, “All of us know that online learning is not just an emergency recourse. It is a permanent feature of school education and probably the much needed evolutionary leap forward that has come to stay forever, although at this point it is prompted by the pandemic.”