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Challenges before schools in India in the post covid era: a perspective

Challenges for schools in the post covid eraSandeep Mukherjee, Group COO, Sunbeam Group of Educational Institutions, Varanasi

When Dr K Kasturirangan’s committee submitted the Draft proposal for the New Education Policy for India, the MHRD was quite appreciative of its potential to cater to the varied interest and cognitive diversities of students of a country like India. Indeed the draft was well researched and had fathoms of findings about lots of lacunae of the currently running education system of India. The policy was uploaded on the MHRD’s website to elicit views and opinions as to how effectively it can be implemented in all parts of the country benefiting the 472 million children in India under the age of 18 years. It also had canons to effectually bring back the 99 million children to mainstream education who drop out from the system at their early ages.

Now, this was then and the world has taken for a change since. In the post Covid era, yes, I will name it an era as it brings in a whole new concept of ‘New Normal’ in education where going to school for studies will probably become optional for students while studying online or studying from home would acclaim the notion of being smart! Notwithstanding the importance of conventional approach to teaching students in a set classroom pattern, we no more can ignore the mammoth significance that Technology is going to bear upon the traditional education system of India.

From the days of Gurukuls, Indian education system has been Guru-centric. Gurus or teachers play pivotal role in the entire organism of education in the country. A country like India which has bio diversities, socio-economic differences, societal patterns of culture and habit and a huge population of children not going to school, will certainly find it too difficult to cope with the odd and unforeseen challenges of the situation that will stand out in schools in the Post – Corona Era !

Till now our fundamental thrust in school education had been to transfer basic book oriented stored and archived knowledge bank to students through set patters of curriculum with help of teachers in a conventional classroom setup. The new education policy, in short, aimed at diversifying the choice of subjects advocating, at the same time, ways and means for roping in more and more number of students who either were dropping out of the system or were totally deprived of it.

Had this Coronavirus attack not been there, certainly things would have taken for better. But now that situation has changed with new parameters of schooling involving social distancing, hygienic orders, protecting children from viral infections etc, it is not possible for schools to go on with the avenues of modern education as dictated in the said Education Policy.

The inter personal skills of students were supposed to be the best of the skills in the then system of education where children were put to so many test tubes of experiments viz debating, declamation, group discussions etc whereby their skills of communication and interacting with people were honed assuming that probably that would be the skill of all success in their life. But now with the rapid inroads of technology being gradually prominent in both building parameters of modern education and in its delivery through distant classrooms, children will have to be given exposure of all new ideas of technological wonders.

Today’s kids are thus going to be the change makers for the upcoming generations of modern Post Covid Era of education. Whatever experiments, trials and errors this generation of students would do would set breakthrough for generations to come. Governments and Board of Education in all states of the country are certainly going to pay emphasis in technological R&D with concentration of magnified resources ever than before.

American developmental psychologist Howard Gardener described 9 types of intelligence which describe a child in 360 degrees. As per his well-established findings, it is not possible to get all these 9 types of intelligence in one child as each child has natural inclination to one or two types of these unique qualities. The Post Covid Era students will essentially have to have two very significant qualities of these nine so as to ensure their survival and success eventually – these two qualities namely are Logical-Mathematical Intelligence and Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence. Students with other qualities like Spatial, Musical, Linguistic, Inter-Personal etc will also have to practice and develop skills that might help them exhibit their mechanical dexterity and logical reasoning in their day to day being.

Another major breakthrough that has already started settling in and is very prominently being notices is the changing concept of Co-Education ! Soon Co-Education will be defined as an educational system where both teachers and students learn together. Yes, the problem that is being faced by all with the major advent of technology into the traditional chores of education in our country is our teachers not being tech-savvy and technology friendly ! They are learning how to teach all over again – this time not in their customary classrooms but from their online classrooms. Students being seeds of the 21st C, are already steps ahead in technological breakthrough vis-à-vis their Gurus, and hence, this online education is more of a fun and game for the students being a nightmare for the teachers at the same time, though ! So, in the process, it is not only a co-learning but whole big system of co-education that has come into existence now which would see quite few rapid changes n the near future as half the country is busy reinventing technology to teach and interact with people distantly while the other half being selling sanitizing and UV equipment.

The trying times of Coronavirus has no doubt given birth to the New Normal concept of schooling whereby reaching out to schools for regular studies will probably neither be essential nor be easily manageable. And hence the need of the hours to identify the potential of Artificial Intelligence and foster its R&D in a major way by the govt. Is the teacher’s place really being contested by the Alexas and the Siris finally ? The time to come has the answers in its mantle.       

Also read: EW webinar on “School Management in the Post-Covid Era”

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