The National Education Policy 2020 with a vision of universalization of education from pre-school to secondary level aims to do away with rote learning eventually and focus more on conceptual and analytical learning instead, says Kriti Garg from SAI International School. In an all-new series titled Students’ Corner, which puts special emphasis on children, Shreyosi Chakraborty from EducationWorld interviews Students’ Council representatives to know their side of the story, understanding their advantages or disadvantages on recent educational trends.
Q. A students’ council representative must cater to too many things apart from studies. How have you been carrying out your responsibilities amidst the pandemic and intermittent lockdowns from March 2020?
Things have been different from March 2020 and hence, difficult. The school depends on the council as they lead by example and the students follow. In this case, however, all of us have been made to go through difficult times by the pandemic. Since all the activities have been shifted online, so have the responsibilities of the students’ council as well. We maintained coordination amongst ourselves and among the other students through social media platforms like WhatsApp Messages, and phone ensuring their participation in the online classes/events.
Q. In a nutshell, how was the journey of adapting to the compulsive shift to online education? How hard or different was it to cope up with the virtual world?
Humans are at the top of the evolutionary ladder with the highest levels of cognitive intelligence. Being millennials and part of the generation, which witnessed the social media revolution, we managed to turn the online mode of education to our advantage by organising events on an international stage. We facilitated many cultural exchanges between Junior & Senior High School of Kogakuin University, Tokyo; Chosen Hill School, United Kingdom; Gombe High School, Uganda; Taibah International School, Uganda; Chittagong Grammar, Bangladesh; Indian High School, Dubai and Cadet College, Pakistan where they shared their cultures and customs, art and tradition and we shared ours. We would never come forward with these interesting and amazing learning opportunities if not for the forced lockdowns inflicted by the pandemic. We have also had global webinars focussing on mental health where representatives from 10 different countries spoke about mental health, body image, depression, social awareness and overcoming discrimination. Of course, the normal classes were there, covering the curriculum, but our school tried to make those sessions interesting for us ensuring holistic and sustainable learning.
Q. Going by reports, not many students have been attending physical classes after the schools started reopening in phases. What has the response been in your school?
Since I was a part of the senior batch, we frantically jumped at the chance of going to school again. We do not know how many times we can head to school again as we are the outgoing batch. But the process of going back to the old normal where students would be attending schools daily would be a gradual process. Parents will take time to win over their fears and do away with their hesitancy and send their wards to school peacefully.
The school has obviously implemented and maintained a series of new health & safety protocols. Regular temperature checks, separate staircases to avoid crowding, not allowing more than 20 students in one classroom and also the resumption of classes in phases to avoid unnecessary student interactions inside the premises.
Q. Is online learning a preferred choice for you and your friends alike?
Students prefer the online mode as it is more convenient. But then, nothing can be a substitute to the physical classes. The physical presence inside a classroom, meeting teachers, disciplined lifestyle, mixing with friends, sharing and just the orientation that is required to get ready for school cannot be recreated virtually. I personally feel coming to school is very important for cognitive health and overall development.
Then again, online learning is more convenient. I feel, for certain subjects online learning is fine especially in the senior years of school where physical presence is comparatively less important.
Practical classes and laboratory exercises need a physical presence, but a simple explanation of certain lessons can also be done over the screen. This will eventually save time and energy. Hybrid learning, if utilised wisely can be a viable option to study further.
Q. Have you understood the National Education Policy’s takeaways?
The National Education Policy 2020 is quite progressive. I have read it many times. The whole 5+3+3+4 school system rather than 10+2 system would be effective as it is taking away emphasis on 12 and 10 and equalising the emphasis on other classes as well. It is also encouraging enough to apply to foreign universities. Our school has been doing experiential learning and NEP has just augmented the same.
Q. Since there has been little time for revision of the previous year’s syllabus and the pandemic has also disrupted the flow of education, how did the schools help the students to prepare?
Both teachers and the students worked hard together on this. Our teachers made sure that we get various resource links, and other sources of study. We also have a school application Saihomeschool App which also helped us prepare ourselves. We also had proper orientation sessions.
Q. Due to the change in exam patterns, many students have started developing and experiencing paranoia about exams. Does your school have any access to counsellors who could assess their mental health and help them overcome the fear when needed?
We have a wellness counsellor in our school and used to share things with her to ease our stress levels.
Q. How do you keep abreast with the latest career options or how do you plan to go ahead with the higher education prospects?
Our school provides career sessions every week in which we have counsellors from the United Kingdom, USA and Australia. We also have professionals from various fields talk to us about further career options. Even Alumni talk is hosted weekly for us where alumni from Delhi University share their perspectives.
Q. What are you passionate about and which subject do you wish to study forward?
I want to go abroad for higher studies. Eventually, I have plans to apply for International Relations to a London or an American Varsity.
Q. As per the CBSE notion, the exam will be twice a year with the reduced syllabus -one exam for each term. What is your take on this?
This is a welcoming move. Reducing half of the syllabus for each term means that our stress has also been reduced to half. This new evaluation pattern will do away with rote learning and memorising and focus more on analytical or concept-based learning.
Q. Are you attending any tutorials for your abroad studies?
Yes. I am attending SAT classes. They are conducted in online mode and hence I can easily attend them without having to go anywhere.