What must schools do before reopening? | UPSC
What must schools do before reopening?
WHY IN NEWS:
How soon can children return to their classes? What are the risks involved?
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Education : Human Resource : Online education
For PRELIMS you will learn a new concept of zero academic year !
For MAINS well in this article we have covered :
- How vulnerable a child is when he/she enters the school .
- Teachers admission to the new era of online mode of education .
- Online education debate .
- With the number of COVID-19 cases spiking this week, there is a growing clamour to protect children from going to examination centres and keep them away from school for some time longer.
- Many schools are offering online classes, but that has its own perils.
WHAT ARE INDIA’S SCHOOL CHILDREN DOING NOW?
- THE NUMBERS : There are an estimated 25 crore schoolchildren in 15 lakh Indian schools , who have all been at home since classes stopped across the country from March 16.
- EDUCATION MATTERS : Their current educational situation varies wildly, depending on age, location and socio-economic status.
- CBSE PROMISE : The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has largely left the decision on how to proceed to its affiliate schools, but has promised a syllabus reduction.
- PRIVATE SCHOOLS : For the 33% of students in private schools, classes have gone online with teachers attempting to maintain a regular schedule.
- OTHERS : Centre has brought out an educational calendar with lesson plans and learning activities, and is also beaming classes through dedicated television channels in multiple languages, especially for older children.
- WHATSAPP CLASSES : Teachers are giving out assignments via WhatsApp which is totally based on digital access, self-motivation and parental involvement ! Vast majority of students have spent three months like extended summer holidays .
WHEN WILL SCHOOLS REOPEN?
No one knows when schools can reopen.
- RECENT DEVELOPMENT : Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has said that physical reopening of schools will not take place till August 15, although some States such as Haryana have suggested a July reopening date.
- FINAL CALL : The Centre will announce the earliest possible date for reopening after consultation between the HRD, Health and Home Ministries, but the final call will be left to State governments.(#education is a concurrent subject).
- CONTAINMENT ZONES : For those in containment zones, the wait may be longer, leading to worries about unequal educational opportunities among the same age cohort.
- ZERO ACADEMIC YEAR : Parents, Right to Education activists and the Delhi government teachers’ association are calling for 2020-21 to be treated as a “zero academic year”, with no pressure to set a reopening date at all.
LET US ANALYSE A POLLING RESULT !
AN ONLINE POLL BY LOCAL CIRCLES FOUND THAT
- 37% of parents want to send their child to school only 21 days after there are no new cases in their districts,
- While another 36% say it should be three weeks after no new cases in the State or country.
- In fact, 13% do not want schools to restart until a vaccine is developed.
DECISION MAKING :
- Apart from governments and parents, teachers and schools are also important stakeholders in this decision.
TEACHERS AT RISK :
OLD TEACHERS : Older teachers, especially those with comorbidities are also at risk from young students who cannot be expected to follow social distancing norms.
TEACHERS PAYMENT : With some State governments announcing that fees cannot be collected for online classes, some private schools are divided between the need for income to pay teachers’ salaries .
INFECTION HOTSPOT : Teachers are finding difficulty of ensuring they do not become infection hotspots.
WHAT IS THE HEALTH PROTOCOL THAT NEEDS TO BE IN PLACE BEFORE SCHOOLS REOPEN?
- The Centre is expected to release guidelines on this issue next week.
HRD OFFICIALS SAY SOME LIKELY STEPS CAN INCLUDE :
- SCREENING : Temperature screening at the entrance to schools and classrooms,
- MONITORING : Ensure mask or shield-wearing and social distancing,
- HYGIENE : Sanitisation routines to clean all furniture and facilities,
- QUARANTINE NORMS : Isolation and hospitalisation protocols for infected students and staff,
- LIMITING STUDENTS : Plans for staggered attendance and blended learning to limit the number of students on the premises on any given day.
IS ONLINE EDUCATION A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE?
- GUIDELINES ON DIGITAL EDUCATION : The Centre is preparing guidelines on digital education, including cybersafety.
- CAPPING ONLINE INTERACTION : It is likely to include limiting the number of hours a child is online, with a one to three hour cap on synchronous interaction.
- LONG TEACHING HOURS : Currently, some schools are trying to maintain a seven-hour teaching schedule, which creates stress and distraction.
- LINGUISTIC BIAS : Educational apps are largely in English, although multi-lingual apps are being developed.
- COMPUTERS IN INDIA : Only 11% of Indian households have a computer.
- SMARTPHONES PENETRATION : Although smartphone penetration is higher, only 24% have Internet facilities, which drops to 15% in rural areas– latest National Sample Survey.
HOW CAN EVALUATION BE DONE?
- IMMEDIATE BATTLE : Given that several boards, including the CBSE, are yet to conclude examinations from the previous 2019-20 academic year.
- SAFETY NET QUESTIONED : The Board has exponentially increased the number of examination centres to 13,000 and is developing screening protocols, but the question of whether Class 12 examinations can be safely conducted in the first two weeks of July is currently in the Supreme Court.
- MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS : Schools are experimenting with multiple choice tests and uploaded answers for at-home evaluation options.