Sunday, December 3, 2023

Find solutions

We are now nearly a month after schools for all classes reopened in the state after almost two years. This was the longest break that we know of, and it has been so stressful for all. The long holiday was unique is many ways. It introduced the uninitiated to digital socializing, young to digital learning, businessmen to digital sales, sick to digital consultations, and education to machine learning. In a sense it was amusing, being unique and not seen before experience in all spheres of life. And it was reforming as well for it caused a paradigm shift in social behaviour, communication platforms, and above all in the learning methods from the decades old practices. The digital learning imparted a whole new dimension to the interactive learning methods. While it started with the understanding that it is only a replacement for the normal physical space of learning, but over the last two years digital learning created a niche for itself and promises to stay with the school system as an essential component in future. It has now occupied the space which hitherto belonged to the conventional system only. The remarkable change it made was to enter into social spaces as it gave hands-on experience of technology to young and old among, many would otherwise hesitate in giving it a try. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention; a tech-based ecosystem was created wherein an electronic gadget in a kid’s hand, and the technological intervention, made the Parent-Teacher-Student trio a high-tech combo. The online learning methods had their own share of shortcomings. Technology mechanized the classroom to the detriment of the slow learner, a not-so-tech-savvy parent, and students. And it dislodged the advantage of one-to-one interface with students who would otherwise excel in a conventional classroom where a level playing field was possible for them. With all its perceived and real shortcomings, the virtual learning has delivered when it was needed the most. During the process, it evolved and tried to address all the concerns that emanated from the experience. The process of reform and upgrade in technology is still on and would continue to be so as Artificial Intelligence is fast making inroads into the system of education. It did succeed in throwing up better and efficient platforms for use but there is nothing that can be termed as ideal in technological systems. An all-encompassing integrated tech-based educational software that could totally replace the physical classroom is either a wish, or a scare. Perhaps that is not even achievable as manmade machines would never replace the ultimate machine, a human being. The two must, therefore, keep complementing each other. What is important is that the digital and the conventional learning methods must be wedded together to complement the advantages of both. Let the learning generation get the best of both. Systems evolve likewise as it is the law of nature. That said now that students are back to schools it is time to reflect on many things pertaining to schooling. The pandemic induced closure has thrown up many lessons for parents, teachers, school management, and the government departments related to education sector. If all the stakeholders do a meticulous study of the problems that appeared in bold relief during the closure, it can yield good benefits in the long term. In the days to come these stakeholders must take it upon themselves that a deep and consistent thinking is employed to make the schooling more efficient, and productive. To this end, the department of education needs to take an initiative and involve the stakeholders in identifying the problems and finding solutions to them. Just to mention few; we have seen during the pandemic that apart from a few high end schools, most of the schools faced financial crisis. How can this problem be resolved, without putting the poor class, or those whose incomes suffered during pandemic, to trouble. This is a big challenge for the stakeholders. Second, the private school teachers have been the worst victims. Their salaries, in many cases, were halved or are pending for months together. Already they are getting very meager salaries, and those also are not getting paid. How can this vulnerable class be provided safeguards. The problems like these have appeared in bold relief during this pandemic induced closure. It is time to deliberate on these problems and find long term, and workable, solutions to them.