The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented period of confusion and dread for everyone across the world, with the emerging global belief, that safety comes first, and money can no longer buy good health. The realization that has begun to seep in, is that the good habits like personal hygiene and social distancing with a concern for others can save many from becoming a Corona victim. The world community has unanimously committed to fight the battle against the deadly disease, which has impacted over 1.5 million, causing thousands to die already. As per a report published by The Economic Times, till date, over 1.5 million people had been affected by COVID-19 and about 80,000 people have died worldwide. As we know, the pandemic-driven crisis is constantly changing and countries are desperate to flatten the curve for COVID-19. Our Government and district administration has been working round the clock to reach out and offer safety and protection to the citizens.
This global situation has caused concern to all the stakeholders in the field of education, as their prime objective remains, imparting knowledge with competencies; leading to wisdom. Schools have been shut down, with the students depending only on virtual support, not only for academics but also for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic raging across the world; parents are playing the part of “Teacher at home” for the home schoolers,teachers are racing between running their own households and on-screen content delivery norms, students have extremely limited contact with friends and virtually no physical activity and all known and recognized boards like IB, A-Levels, ICSE, CBSE, etc; have had to postpone or cancel examinations.
Most of the School Principals are concerned that though many fantastic resources are available to provide on-line guidance; like MS Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype or Cisco Webex; there are not many that could mimic the nurturing environment of school, which provides multidisciplinary learning, instills inquisitiveness, encourages connections across different domains, helps in building a competitive edge and inspires ideas which help a child develop 21st century skills.Though a home-based tech-enabled learning environment is emerging, this contradicts the basic human need for being social by hanging out with peers and clinging to their mentors for emotional support. Amidst all this, expecting a parent to do multi-skilling to enable holistic development; without the coherent support of a school is simply beyond anyone’s imagination.
Safe social distancing and self- protection are the new emerging life skills in the post-pandemic era, that shall certainly find their place in the school curriculum. Being driven by the motive of enhancing immunity to guard against the pandemic, people are finding a lot of truth in Ayurveda, naturopathy, yoga and meditation and eating right to foster immunity. Some natural immunity supplements include ginger, gooseberries (amla) and turmeric. Several herbs also help in boosting immunity like garlic, Basel leaves and Black cumin. Certain seeds and nuts like sunflower seeds, Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and melon seeds are excellent sources of proteins and vitamins. Many of these immunizers are common ingredients in Indian dishes and snacks.
There are also certain advantages to the lockdown situation, like the optimism ushered in by the parents being able to give loads of time to their children, teachers creating many valuable e-resources, the boom in technological lead learning programs reaching out to all generations, the fostering of self-management instead of dependence on the domestic helps etc. Not only the learning programs but family meetings, neighborhood congregations, even wedding and other celebrations have moved to the virtual space; thus cutting down on travelling costs, wastage of time & fuel thus conserving valuable resources which has amounted to lesser pollution and more greenery across the planet.
This trying period has, however, also brought issues and problems for which solutions are yet to be found. Not only is the economic recession a huge cause of worry, the unorganized sector is the worst hit. The problems faced by the teachers are generally, about disciplining the students during the on-line teaching and the writing practices because all the controls on most of the gadgets used for classes are as accessible to the tech-savvy students. Some of the assessment patterns that our schools have been following do not have a parallel in the on-line learning mode or if they do; it requires the kind of competence that has yet to be achieved by the teachers.
The expected writing style while attempting subjective studies, as per the board standards in India, and practiced over the years, has so far used technology-driven solutions only as a classroom teaching aids. Therefore, it is necessary to change the entire pattern of planning, curriculum delivery, recapitulation and assessments itself in case we wish to do justice to our students. Otherwise, on-line learning mode, especially up to secondary level, which is currently in practice during the lockdown period could be considered only as a stop-gap arrangement, till the situation improves.
We must embrace THE NEW NORMS that are essential for survival. Frequent washing of hands, keeping oneself masked, not touching the eyes and face, avoiding crowded places, maintaining social distance, sanitization of user spaces, etc are the new rituals that must be adopted. The students must be involved in dispensing information, creating new knowledge and be made accountable for their behavior during the on-line classes. The education patterns of assessments must include more challenges that could be addressed through open-book tests. The parent community must appreciate the way, schools are helping students come to terms with the changing patterns of learning, instead of raising unnecessary expectations about marks scored in the class tests. A change in perspective is required wherein every citizen acquires global values and checks his/her behaviors, to stop making a mess in someone else’s life.
It is essential that all our senses be driven to fight against Coronavirus . Synergizing the strength of the 3 H’S; ie. head, hand and heart can act as a preventive measure-
- Remembering (through your head) the social distancing norms and eating “right” to build up the immunity
- Wash hands or sanitize all new things/places you get acquainted with
- Infected people to remain in quarantined spaces; other to empathize with the ailing and express love for all in your heart, by following the prescribed regulations.
We still do not know, for how long this situation shall continue as there seems to be no coherent solution to beat the pandemic; offered by WHO except social distancing. In some schools of China where schooling has resumed after a long break, children are seen wearing head gears that automatically allow distancing from others of around 1.5 meters. Schools must prepare SOP’s for running, with corona prevention in mind; to give confidence to the students to join back fearlessly. The teachers should continue to harness new skills that are very intrinsically required to conduct virtual teaching & learning platforms. Students should aim at taking up research-driven projects, deliberate & debate on important issues amongst themselves and their teachers and be creative in their thinking, writing and reading.
This is the time when we need to keep ourselves spiritually inclined, so that it would eventually help us to combat any new situation and build the resilience to embrace love and harmony. We have to embrace the NEW norms and evolve & emerge as stronger individuals, not only physically, but spiritually and emotionally too!