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Primary schools reopen after 20 months Learning loss: Skip assignments in class, give more homework, cut curriculum, suggests panel

Based on internal surveys, the experts suggested unanimously that there should be a reduction in curriculum with stress on teaching only the “relevant” chapters.

Written by Ritu Sharma | Ahmedabad |
November 23, 2021 6:18:57 am
An 11-member committee formed by the Gujarat government to suggest ways to cover the “immense” learning loss to lower primary students during the Covid-19 pandemic (Representational)

An 11-member committee formed by the Gujarat government to suggest ways to cover the “immense” learning loss to lower primary students during the Covid-19 pandemic, when classes were held online for almost 20 months, has recommended a plan for the remaining days of the academic session by skipping assignments in class, increasing homework and reducing the curriculum.

State schools recorded an average attendance of 15 per cent when offline classes resumed for Classes 1 to 5 on Monday. While most of the self-financed schools have decided to resume offline classes from next week requiring time for planning and taking consent from parents, government primary schools across the state that were shut since March 2020 reopened on Monday.

Tapi recorded the highest attendance of 29.51 per cent on first day, followed by Navsari (28 per cent), Narmada (27 per cent) and Devbhumi Dwarka (26 per cent). Among districts with lowest number of students attended schools were the cities of Surat (2.6 per cent), Vadodara (5 per cent) and Ahmedabad city (5.12 per cent).

The recommendations shared in an online meeting chaired by MI Joshi, director of primary education, on November 18 are being compiled and likely to be submitted to the state government on Tuesday.
“We will submit the report to the education minister tomorrow after compiling the recommendations. This will be followed by a deliberation on implementation of the recommendations,” Joshi told The Indian Express.

The committee comprises educationists and academicians such as NC Swamiji, chairman Vrajbhoomi International School Anand; Raja Pathak, director, Sattva Vikas School Ahmedabad; Tejal Amin, chairperson Navrachna Education Society, Vadodara; Digvijaysinh Jadeja, president, Gujarat Primary Teachers Association; and Jatin Barad, president of Rajkot zone of Gujarat Self-Financed School Management Association.

“While everyone knows that there has been an immense learning loss, the committee submitted recommendations on strategies to cover learning losses as schools reopened after remaining closed for more than 600 days,” said Raja Pathak, who is also an office-bearer of Association for Promotion of Prominent Schools.

Adding that the recommendations included time management for nearly 60-70 remaining teaching days (for CBSE affiliated schools) of the academic session, Pathak said, “Parents’ involvement has been the highest in the history during these 600 days. This should be utilised to the maximum through focus on homework rather than wasting time on assignments in the classroom.”

Based on internal surveys, the experts suggested unanimously that there should be a reduction in curriculum with stress on teaching only the “relevant” chapters.

“While worksheets to reduce gaps should be prepared by schools and distributed among students for Classes 1 to 5, stress should be on listening, reading and writing in the core subjects. There should not be a rush to complete curriculum. We have recommended to reduce curriculum where only the relevant chapters that are required in the next class should be covered,” said NC Swamiji.

Swamiji, who is also co-ordinator secretary of more than 140 Swaminarayan Gurukuls in Gujarat and member of Anand district advisory for the Gujarat Self Financed Management Association, added that the surveys conducted in all these schools revealed that behaviour of children, especially in Classes 6 to 8 has changed a lot.

“They are no more able to sit continuously for four to five hours, which was the school time earlier as they have been taking online classes sitting or lying down on a sofa,” he added.

Teachers’ representation in the committee through Digvijaysinh Jadeja, Gujarat Primary Teachers Association, stated that looking at the learning losses, they have suggested that an additional one hour should be planned for making children to only read and write before the school hours.

Bharat Gajipara, president of Gujarat Self-Financed School Management Association, told The Indian Express, “We suggested that in Classes 1 to 5, children should be taught only to read and write. We also have to check how much a child knows. Since schools were closes for almost two years, curriculum should be reduced at least by 20 per cent.”

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