Readers’ take: Lessons from Covid, chart a new course for students with care
With uncertainty prevailing over the Covid-19 crisis, one does not know when the colleges will reopen, authorities need to cut down the syllabus to more than 30% and make efforts to open the institutes by September this year when sufficient time will be left to complete the syllabus till the end of the academic year. Safety and social distancing measures should of course be in place. If that does not happen then the government has to take a decision to promote the students without any examination.
In order to help the students study effectively without pressure, emphasis should be laid on the methodology of teaching, content being taught and also the accessibility to education. Efforts should be made to ensure that children don’t strain their eyes because of hours spent before computers for online classes. The government should provide free internet access and study oriented devices (ideally tablets) to poor children (most of them studying in government schools) so that every child has access to education at this time. Some unimportant topics in the curriculum can be skipped for this year to reduce the workload on students. Parents, who are ideally the child’s first teachers, should take command. They should be in regular touch with their ward and their teachers, and should try to devote some time to their children’s studies to help them. We need to be optimistic and believe that the day will come when we will have lived past this nightmare, when everything will finally come back on track.
Krrish Madaan, Ambala
‘One child, one teacher, one pen and one laptop with high speed internet can certainly change the world’, is the new quote of our era. Taking online classes is the only way forward for students in these turbulent times and for this, the schools must impart due training to their teachers.
Avik Seth, Zirakpur, Mohali
Teachers should make their best efforts to ensure their students take as much advantage of online classes as they can, even if the syllabus is reduced. Teachers should also be in touch with parents, be approachable to children, and be as innovative and interesting as they can be. The schools must also help poor parents whose children are handicapped as they cannot afford smart phones or internet costs. The mental and physical health of children should be factored in when lesson plans are made. They should not be exposed to too much screen time and be fruitfully employed in creative activities to avert anxiety.
Madhu R D Singh, Ambala
Lessons should be made fun and short so that the curriculum can be completed quickly and children enjoy the learning. Students should be promoted automatically though regular assignments should be given to them using various methods. This will ward off stress and tensions students are likely to be feeling at this time. Creativity in education is the need of the hour. Besides, skill development training should be given and students taught different household tasks that will enable them to take care of themselves and their families in emergent situations. We also need to adapt to online methods in pandemic times as we should make the best use of technology.
Saikrit Gulati, Chandigarh
The purpose of school classes and tests is to add to and assess the grasp a student has on studies. Promoting students automatically to the next class is tantamount to a reward given for no effort made by a student. CBSE should frame question papers involving comprehensive coverage of course contents on quarterly basis and students should submit the answers after open-book self-study and consultation of peers and teachers directly/physically and virtually. Annual results can be compiled by the school concerned. This will encourage self-study and keep students busy .
Lalit Bharadwaj, Panchkula
Give us our provisional degree, we expect nothing from our college, which has the worst placement scenario. I am a student of mechanical engineering. What about my expectations and my parents’ hopes if our institutes cannot help us get a job? I don’t know how institutes such as University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET), Panjab University, have reported no impact on placements this year. If we don’t get jobs what other benefit can we expect from universities or colleges?
Rohit Singh Rathore
Promoting the students automatically will set an unhealthy precedent. One option is to grade students on the basis of internal tests. Pruning of syllabus is not a permanent solution as it may lead to complacency among all the stakeholders.
Usha Verma, Chandigarh
Parents will not want to send their children to schools when the Covid-19 pandemic rages. If this academic year is cancelled students should utilise the time in polishing their skills and developing their knowledge with the help of digital platforms such as YouTube or other online apps for easier passage through the next class and year.
The students have to be promoted to the next classes as there is no other alternative. However, they should be made to clear an online test such as general awareness on health and wellness apart from other subjects. Parents can also help in grading them on the basis of how efficiently they are handling their life during the lockdown at home and helping out with household chores etc.
Suman Kansal, Panchkula
As we all are going through the Covid-19 pandemic and things aren’t looking good yet, many students are worried about their future. The government should allow promotion of students without exams and colleges immediately start classes for the next semester. It will be good for students to make a timetable and start studying for the next academic session.
Sam Randhawa, Ludhiana
Life has been disrupted across India and the world because of the Covid-led lockdowns. Even if some institutes in urban India manage online classes, India doesn’t have the technology for interactive learning across the country, especially in rural India where resources are limited. Every student doesn’t possess a smartphone or a laptop for online studies. The Indian government should be more generous this year and promote all students to the next class without any examination. No one should be unfair towards students and should not initiate any such step which will ruin an entire year for them.
Gurpreet S Malhotra, Kansal
In these unprecedented times neither the students nor teachers feel comfortable about attending classes. However, online coaching for students can hardly substitute for classroom teaching, more so when practicals are an integral part of the prescribed course. Wisdom therefore lies in giving a go by to the session instead of putting the safety of children in jeopardy. The education departments must take a bold and firm stand.
SC Luthra, Chandigarh
Everyone knows that India is a poor and developing country. Students/ children are the future of the nation. A majority of poor students cannot spend money on digital gadgets. Secondly, primary school students can’t get the benefit of online education without support or help from parents and teachers. So, this method of online teaching is not suitable for the poor, especially those in rural and slum areas. The students cannot attend the schools due to Covid-19 and neither are their parents willing to send them. Prevention is better than cure. Long-term breaks can be declared for primary school students. Examinations should be based on the syllabus covered through online classes and other assessments. Senior students should be made to come in shifts and only one-third students should attend classes for two days a week after observing social distancing and wearing face masks. Online education should be provided to them alongside regular classes. The syllabus should be reduced. In the end, the annual examination should be held in two shifts (morning and evening ) in small groups with rules and regulations. All the extra activities and sports should be banned as long as the threat of Covid-19 remains. The UT administration should ensure that special attention is given by schools and teachers to the care of students.
Sumesh Kumar Badhwar
Students have been the worst sufferers during the Covid-19 pandemic as they haven’t attended classes in the last four months. Syllabus should be reduced and exams must be taken to judge the students’ grasping power. In case exams are held by any chance, the pattern of question papers has to be changed. There should be more emphasis on multiple choice questions, one line questions and very short questions to quickly assess their grasp on a subject. Questions requiring long answers should not be included in exams . In order to keep students engaged, they should be made to do different interesting activities . Competitions can be held online. Storytelling, recitation sessions can be held for pre-primary classes. Students should also be given projects which enable them to apply practical as well as theoretical knowledge to what they have learnt. Marks based on such assignments and co-curricular activities should be included for assessment.
Abhilasha Gupta, Mohali
The decision of the CBSE to reduce syllabus by up to 30% clearly illustrates that policymaking around education in India is taking retrograde steps. The trivialisation of knowledge is symptomatic of an outlook that regards textbooks as assemblages of facts, which need to be memorised and regurgitated in examinations. The curriculum is designed only to enable students to pass examinations to be elevated to a higher class. This thinking has led to mushrooming of coaching institutes and the brisk business of sale of guidebooks, past year examination questions and their model answers. No attention is paid to the creativity of the student. CBSE desires that students should graduate without learning about citizenship, nationalism, secularism, algebra basics, binomial theorems, democracy and diversity, magnetic effects of electric currents and mathematical reasonings. The curriculum rationalisation will lead to knocking down of the building blocks of knowledge. The ideal way should have been to have condensed versions on critical themes, to ensure that students pick up the basics, without getting overburdened and stressed.
Rajiv Boolchand Jain, Zirakpur