– Ramakrishna Rao
The global health pandemic has brought many challenges and vulnerabilities to the fore. Out of all the chief and major one is education in which more than 1.5 billion students got affected due to sudden school closures. But in India during the pandemic, human resourcefulness and adaptability with a huge potential was quite seen even in remote, sensitive and far-flung areas. Everybody realized that decisions made today will have long term consequences on future education even after this crucial post pandemic world. Academia, policy makers, the teachers – the front-line educators, administrators, parents and alumni had started making high stake choices for the betterment of the society with a humanistic vision.
Teachers Technology Upgradation:
Right from the beginning of this century, all our teachers are being advised to be developing scientific temper with all 21st century skills without ignoring technology. But this process was delayed and our Indian teachers did not take it very seriously and remained as tech-lovers but not tech-savvy. Suddenly this pandemic has forced them to search for open ended solutions to undertake effective quality online classes for reaching urban and semi urban students in a big way. The whole adaptation took only one and half months to our surprise among our Vidya Bharathi teachers. Teachers collaborated well to hold meetings for evolving off line techniques for reaching students. Accordingly, hybrid learning and blended teaching methods were planned with an effective follow up.
Vidya Bharathi’s engagement with students across:
Vidya Bharati with its 13K big formal schools and 12K informal institutions, could reach all the stake holders during the Pandemic. Teachers and management network took benefits of technological boom and online reach was possible. Offline methods to engage in learning experiences by students with digital content was handed over in person with the help of stake holders. This network was built by Vidya Bharathi with the help of 1.5L teachers, 4.5L Alumni, 1.5L Management members and around 5L mothers in entire India. I shall list out some of the methods followed.
- Reaching students with recorded lessons and forming a group to engage in learning which was well received in tribal areas with enthusiasm.
- Organizing weekly tuition centers in rural areas with a follow up action. This was very popular in Andhra Pradesh.
- Encouraging Mohalla Vidyalas in all the colonies, where our teachers reached and held regular classes both off-line and on-line. This is a popular mode in U.P, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, M.P, Chhattisgarh and Bihar.
- Training mothers in the school and on line to conduct primary classes in their localities. This was well received in Orissa.
- Home-a-school – Ghar hi Vidyalay was a necessity with a little on line training during lock-down period and direct contact classes with necessary inputs after unlocking was declared. Home schooling went on well in Karnataka, Gujarat, Orissa, Assam, M.P, etc.
- Red letter days, National heroes Birthday celebrations and environment protection related activities were conducted as usual during Covid-Pandemic.
- Online training for all the concerned including teachers was conducted to upgrade, upskill and empower them.
Through all these activities our live contact was maintained which was the need of the hour and this hand holding process was well received and appreciated.
New added social responsibility:
Now that in NEP-20, the concept of school complexes was again discussed with more a socio-centric approach. Moreover, UNESCO appointed International commission report on futures of education in a post-COVID-19 world & nine ideas for public action was released in which social orientation was the thrust by promoting students and youth participation in the co-construction of desirable change in the society. These are all in support of 2030 agenda for sustainable development. All these ideas invite debate, engagement and action by educational professionals and other stakeholders, where in hybrid learning becomes crucial. Apart from this, learning has become any time, any place activity with multi-disciplinary approach and multi-dimensional demands by students.
Hybrid Learning – A Necessary Initiative:
All the above added social responsibilities force us to go for Hybrid learning where traditional classroom experiences, experiential learning, competency-based learning and digital course delivery to need-specific learners are stressed upon.
This requires training and tips for teachers who prepare themselves and get ready with a learning management system and backup plan. We should never forget that teachers are front-line warriors in bringing any change in processes and practices at the ground level. Without changing the mindset, approach and necessary motivation no transformation in the education system is possible. Let our teachers be empowered and updated to become more futuristic.
– Ramakrishna Rao
(Author is a Retired Principal and Akhil Bharatiya President of Vidya Bharati)