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Future Of Education In Post-Covid World

As schools gradually reopen, we will need to be intentional about ensuring students are getting caught up with what they missed

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Post-Covid, we are faced with possibly the greatest opportunity of our lifetimes in India: to correct for learning loss that occurred to students during the pandemic. While many schools gradually shifted to virtual modes of learning during the school shutdowns, the digital disruption in education impacted almost 250 million children who were out of school, with less than 40 per cent having access to digital learning.  

With so much disruption to education, students, teachers, and parents are now eager and ready to make up for lost time and learning loss. As schools gradually reopen, we will need to be intentional about ensuring students are getting caught up with what they missed. 

A building whose foundation is critical to their success at school. There are two key elements that need our focus to make this happen: ensuring teachers have what they need in their classrooms to effectively teach their students and making sure parents have what they need to support their children with their learning at home.  

Below are a few ways we can seize this opportunity and ensure students have what they need to learn. 

Making school accessible to all children  

With the reopening of schools, we need to make it a priority that all children return to school, including those who dropped out during the pandemic. We can rely on school management and child protection committees, along with Panchayats, to help with this process. This is essential because we know that before the onset of Covid, a staggering 16% of children dropped out of school at the secondary level, in addition to the children who had never been enrolled. Research indicates that these numbers will skyrocket due to the pandemic. Since families have suffered deep economic crises due to the pandemic, adolescent children will be most at risk of dropping out to help their families with income generation activities.  

Mitigating learning loss with a personalised approach  

While access is a critical first step in achieving equity, for mitigation of learning loss, catch-up programs should be made a priority. This includes rapid assessments combined with personalised study programs for students, of which technology can be a great enabler. Implemented by Pratham Foundation, Teaching at the Right Level is one such programme that focuses on tailoring teaching techniques and tracking the progress of students enrolled in grades three to five. The replication of these types of methodologies across states can prove to be extremely effective in mitigating learning loss.  

Getting the foundation right 

Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) has been accorded the utmost importance as a key area of intervention, as per the National Education Policy 2020. Every child should have the chance to achieve appropriate grade-level learning competencies in areas of reading, writing, and numeracy by the end of class three.  

Amongst the states, Haryana is taking the lead in implementing the FLN mission with a focused team already in place being led by Central Square Foundation and facilitated by Samagra. This is an extension of multiple initiatives the state has been driving to achieve grade-level competency.  

Taking a cue from the government of India’s NIPUN Bharat Mission, Himachal Pradesh has launched NIPUN Himachal. We are working with Pratham, and Samagra to support the state government with FLN study materials, teacher capacity building, the establishment of a mentoring cadre, and structured assessments to gauge performance. The state is confident of achieving its FLN goals two to three years ahead of the national target timelines of 2030. 

Including life skills focus at schools 

In addition to addressing learning loss, it’s important to focus on healthy social-emotional development to help with academic performance, emotional difficulties, anxiety, and school behaviours. 

As per a UNICEF report, more than one in seven adolescents aged 10–19 is estimated to live with a diagnosed mental disorder globally, with South Asia reporting the highest numbers. These challenges have only deepened in the last two years. 

A socio-emotional learning component in the curriculum will not only enable children to express their psychological and physiological needs but will also equip them with the ability to adapt and respond to challenges for years to come. 

To this end, in late 2021, the government of Haryana partnered with UNICEF and YuWaah to impart 21st Century life skills to government school students in classes nine through 12 using a chatbot. Nearly 2.6 lakh students registered for the chatbot and over 50 per cent started a life skills assessment on the bot. As a result, there is now increased awareness and interest in acquiring life skills in the state. 

The pinnacle of engagement  

There is no better way to drive and cement learning for students than having family support. While schools and teachers will continue to drive impact in classrooms, parent engagement at home can play a strong role in bolstering these efforts.  

When the pandemic hit in 2020, The government of Himachal Pradesh immediately swung into action and implemented the country’s first remote-learning programme, Har Ghar Patshala (HGP). The programme is targeted at government school students, enabling parents to support their child’s education at home. 

As part of HGP, the state developed academic content to share with students through WhatsApp, connecting all students (or parents of students) with teachers through nearly 65,000 cascaded Whatsapp groups. The state also conducted virtual parent-teacher meetings where state leadership interacted with parents and addressed their concerns.  

These are just a few engagement strategies that can support children’s learning. As we saw during Covid, when we come to together as a sector to support our children’s learning, the sky is the limit. There is nothing we can’t achieve to ensure the next generation of learners is prepared to contribute to the world in meaningful ways. Let’s seize this opportunity… together. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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future of education Post-COVID World india

Prachi Windlass

The author is Senior Director at Michael and Susan Dell Foundation India

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Gaurav Goel.

The author is the Founder and CEO of Samagra

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