By Zoveria Khalid
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in a swish. In no time the definition of a ‘normal’ changed, going to the office, meeting friends, dining out, going to for outdoors and even going to schools seems a far-fetched reality. While everything is shifting from offline to online platforms, the people who were reluctant to use online services are now compelled to shift their existence from offline to online mode.
The same has happened in the lives of students all over the world. From kids going to Kindergarten to PhD Scholars, to maintain the social distance and reduce the risk of the advancement of coronavirus pandemic to community-level spread, they are confined to their houses which have greatly reduced their outdoor activities, whereas the pressure of studying, attending classes on time and completing the homework is still the same; all thanks to online education.
The worst affected age group is the young kids who had just started going to school but their definition of school got confined to 6-inch screens of their parents’ mobile phones.
Though teaching through online platforms is accepted by the schools with open arms, it’s not an alternative to offline classes by any means. The efficiency and effectiveness of uninterrupted education are suffering greatly as there are many issues that are not being addressed. On the real ground, both students and teachers can tell you the tale of struggles they face on an everyday basis. Some real inconveniences are:
The parents of primary school kids are donning double hats of parenting and supervising their kids for forced online learning.
Also among all these concerns somewhere, we as stakeholders oversee the issues of those underprivileged families who are struggling even to fulfil their basic day to day needs, which ultimately leads their kids to compromise over their fundamental right to education that they never meant to make.
There are many families in India with more than 1 kid in school and having just one device that can connect them to the internet. Poor suffer the most in this time given that already lack of resources further exaggerates the situation.
The technology-enabled idea of online classes has some consequences for students also. Continuous online classes in a single day make them sit in front of computer/mobile screens for long hours which in the long term may result in several physiological as well as psychological destruction.
The most important thing is to build the foundation strong for building to withstand the difficult times. And to make students psychologically strong enough to face times like coronavirus pandemic, we need to bring some grass-root changes in their learning process. Which makes learning more important than just literacy.
The current education system that is turning kids into bounded labourers needs an alternate system where the kids are encouraged to learn, “How To Learn New Things”.Giving the students equal chance and share in deciding not only what is good for them but also what is right for them by inculcating and nurturing the sense of right and wrong.
Kids are not supposed to learn textbook knowledge but real education in terms of learning which start from identifying themselves and their interests which in current Macauley’s education system gives no value to.
India’s first democratic school established in 2019 with the vision of bringing grassroots changes in the orthodox thinking and processes to build a better society after a decade of research and exploration by Dr Mukti Patel, the executive director who has a democratic view on education, believes that every child is unique and is perfectly capable of learning what they want.
They don’t need to be directed in a preset way, they can find their way to become a successful person. All a child needs is an environment where it can thrive without restrictions and chases its interests.
Not just that, children at Prayaas acquire knowledge by watching, observing, and doing reinforced by expert visits and field visits. Prayaas does not employ teachers; it has facilitators for its students who help them with their daily goals set by themselves.
This Democratic School is not just providing them with the favourable environment they need but also has been helping them in polishing their social values.
Children at Prayaas don’t wait for the ring of the bell so that the classes end and they can finally get home but they wait for their school to start so that they can venture out on a new journey of exploration every day.
And in the same way, when the pandemic has restricted the kids from coming to schools, their home is their new lab for exploration. The students are never given the perspective that Prayaas is the only place of learning but they, themselves have inculcated a sense and curiosity to keep learning while staying at home too.
Students are learning numbers and numeracy while helping their guardians with household chores. They are aligning themselves more to nature and know-how to grow sapling and trees rather than reading books on conserving nature.
The very objective of making the kids curious and ethical minded through education is tested well during the pandemic and numerous anecdotes of Prayaas kids and their parents vouch that it has succeeded.
We have found that real education is not teaching 1 to 10 to A to Z in upper and lower cases, but it is important to develop a kid’s right mentality, curiosity, confidence, and morality in which the hoaxed online classes are terribly failing. This brings us to a question: can we even consider the current scenario of online teaching as ‘learning’?
Read More About Prayaas at https://imrc.co.in/democratic-school.