Friday, Oct 07, 2022

Balancing recovery with reform

The latest edition of IE Thinc, presented by The Indian Express, explored the direction school education has to take to achieve the vision of National Education Policy 2020. Moderated by: Ritika Chopra, National Education Editor, The Indian Express. The session was presented by Central Square Foundation

covid-19 indiaMadhav Chavan said, "So the recovery of this population, where they are going to head, is going to require a special kind of consideration." (Express Photo)

On what should be the priority post Covid-19

india covid-19 Co-founder of Pratham

Madhav Chavan: There is no question that recovery is of primary importance. Without that, you can’t build on top of whatever we have today. And it’s in shambles. But when we plan the recovery, we have to decide what is it that we are looking for. Because that recovery will mean different things at different levels. For children in Class I, for example, they are going to a school for the first time ever in their lives. But if you’re looking at 9th and 10th graders, they are concerned about Class X or Class XII examination or what’s going to happen next. It’s not recovery per se, but assuring them that they are going to be able to handle the problem of education or examination properly, that the system is going to handle it. And there are not enough jobs. So the recovery of this population, where they are going to head, is going to require a special kind of consideration. So at different levels, age levels, and also different learning levels, or even economic levels, we’ll have to start thinking about how we are going to handle the recovery.

Striking a balance between recovery and reform

covid-19 schools india Founder and CEO, Madhi Foundation

Merlia Shaukath: There are different aspects of education that probably lend themselves to a drastic paradigm shift from the status quo, and others for whom the treatment may need to be much slower and incremental. For example, in a post-Covid world, it does not make sense to go back to business as usual with textbooks that are rigidly grade-specific, given that children are not going to be at grade level when they come back. So now maybe the best time to sort of undertake a curricular reform that takes into the reality of the post-Covid context and aims to make learning more sort of learning-level specific rather than grade-specific, which would be a very drastic reform for a system that’s used to a standardised approach. There are other aspects of the system reform that the NEP recommends, like, setting up accountability structures, rewards, penalties for teachers for non-performance, etc, which would certainly shock the system in the short term and requires an immense amount of political will. Those aspects may not be an immediate priority while we’re supporting children and teachers to return to schools.

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On bridging the learning gap

Global Education Policy Lead, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Asyia Kazmi: At the Gates Foundation, we’re focused on foundational literacy and numeracy. So I’m going to take that perspective, and what has the pandemic meant for that. Learning losses have really made countries think about the loss because children forget and the loss of the missing learning. How do we bridge that? And while they’re being focused on this aspect previously, what the pandemic has meant is that there is a real understanding that in some cases, there’s been six months missing, or 12 months missing, or 18 months of schools missing. How do we go back to a system that allows that recovery to take place? But before recovery can take place, you have to understand what was lost? So how do we assess? So whether you’re a Class III student who hasn’t been to school in Class I or II, or you’re at the secondary education level, where you’ve had some learning. And the kind of approaches that countries are taking are three brackets. Firstly, increasing the focus on the non-negotiables that children need to know to be able to access whatever grade they’re in. The second aspect is increasing the time for the instruction. And thirdly, increasing the quality of instruction. The most impactful interventions will be the ones that combine those three.

On the way forward

Founder director, Language and Learning Foundation

Dhir Jhingran: If you look at mitigating the learning losses of the pandemic, it actually requires a two or three-year academic plan for bridging and where key skills and competencies of previous grades have to be taught. And this cannot be done unless there are certain reforms. There should be a review of the curriculum to identify key learning outcomes. What should children learn, what’s called reduction in the content and reducing the curricular content, the breadth versus depth argument that the NEP takes, because the time is limited, and children have lost a lot of time. There should be a regular formative assessment so that teachers know where children are, and which children are falling behind. Also, there is a need for frequent revision, and a scope for practice by children. Classroom practices should be more inclusive. The socio-emotional aspects are very crucial to learning. And then partnering with parents as enablers for learning. Now, this is what the recovery requires; it is not two months of remedial teaching and it’s done.

First published on: 01-11-2021 at 03:02:05 am
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