Dr Jyothi Reddy Ghanta: Coronavirus -The pandemic or a plethora of possibilities

Dr Jyothi Reddy Ghanta

Not long ago, in the month of October 2019, The Shri Ram Universal School came up with the mega-initiative‘ AcharyaDevo Bhava’ where educators, educational leaders and school managements came together to discuss the importance of a teacher and the need to provide the necessary skills and tools to the teacher of the future to wade through the uncertain times ahead.

Come February 2020, the so called uncertainty presents itself. The world has come to a sudden stand still. In stages we have shut down normalcy and now we are in the confines of our homes. Needless to say the impact has been across sectors, yet the most affected one has been the one that nestles our future citizens and works to prepare them for life – Schools.

We at The Shri Ram Universal School, have been pro-active in many ways. Our use of technology to share the weekly and monthly learning of the child has ensured that parents are attuned to regular updates sent online. We share good read material, links to educational sites etc to provide additional resources. So, with the outbreak of Covid -19 that led to an early closure of schools for the academic year, we as a school simply continued our practices providing qualitative task sheets and learning material to our students ensuring they are productively engaged. They were also encouraged to utilize their time at home by reorganizing themselves, helping in household chores, spending quality time with family strengthening relationships.

What about the final exams? Our students were in the middle of their year-end exams, focusing their energies on preparing for these final assessments. Half way through the directive is issued to shut down all educational institutions and promote all children to the next grade based on pro-rata grading. It seemed like the logical thing to do for the school, the educators and even school leaders. But what about the students? Would that not demoralize them? With this thought in mind, we as a school proposed the model of home examinations. An audio file shared by me as the leader of the school, explaining the rationale behind the decision led to the fruitful co-operation of our partners in education, the parent community. Together we were successful in taking the right decision andreinforcing values of integrity and trust in our Shriites. The attendance of students attempting exams from home has been promising indeed. Our efforts were acknowledged by the parent community and emails expressing appreciation and gratitude poured in which was an affirmation of our efforts in the right direction.

Now, as the time draws closer for the new academic session to commence, the surmounting and most valid question that faces us is – What next?

This is where the real leap into the world of technology happens. Our teachers are skilled up to embrace this challenge with open arms and befriend the latest trends in teaching and learning. While thousands of e-learning companies have volunteered to provide free services to keep students engaged, our teachers are preparing lessons online, compiling relevant resources, structuring lessons, presenting them with a personal touch of their voice and of course a lot of love. No machine can ever replace teachers, but can assist them in translating their passion into progressive learning for their students.

The pandemic is not here to stay for sure, but it indeed would leave us more adept, agile and enriched with a plethora of possibilities to prepare ourselves and our student community for an uncertain future in the real sense.

(Dr. Jyothi Reddy Ghanta, Founder Principal, The Shri Ram Universal School, Hyderabad, Telangana)