Ensure education more equal in the new normal after opening

21 January 2021

A STUDY showed distance learning programmes through television, radio and internet, adopted after the school closure due to Covid-19, remain by and large ineffective. The interim Education Watch Report 2020-21 said the prolonged closure results in growing monotony and boredom in millions of children who are confined to their home, away from their peers. About 70 per cent of the students did not participate in the distance learning and 58pc could not join the classes due to a lack of devices, while 69pc rural students have no access to smart devices.
On March 17, the government closed all schools to contain the spread of coronavirus. The closure has recently been extended till January 30. The authorities have yet to decide when to reopen the educational institutions. The long closure has led to the cancellation of exams and left academic calendars in disarray. After the school closure, the government started TV education through Sangsad TV for secondary and primary students. The school authorities are working to continue imparting lessons online. Most students in urban areas have access to learning through the internet, but the digital divide has so far proved to be a great disadvantage for the underprivileged learners as they face the prospect of dropping out, mainly for the lack of devices and poor access to the internet. The study brings forth that 75pc students want to be back in the classroom and 76pc parents and 80pc education-related NGO officials are in favour of school reopening. Fifty-eight per cent of teachers favour reopening of schools following a more cautious approach and 62pc teachers wished to shorten the syllabus to recover the academic losses.
Experts asked for reopening schools in rural areas based on Covid-19 situation and process should be done in phases. Besides, there should be steps to ensure that students and teachers wear masks, and they have clean toilets, classroom, benches and arrangements for washing hands. The government, non-government actors, donors and businesses should invest in the educational institutions to install facilities and practice of clean water, sanitary and hygiene before reopening physical schooling.

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