For a year and six months the global pandemic COVID-19 has wreak havoc causing systemic tsunami in every phase of our life. Each time we hope for a better day the situation seems to tell otherwise. Have we counted the chicks too early before they were hatched? Have we thrown the pebbles into the sea counting for the bad days to get over not knowing they were gems for rainy days? A couple of introspective questions can provide an understanding to the gravity of the situation and the reality of the day. Our country experienced the historic nationwide lockdown which was announced on 24th March, 2020, preceded with the Janata curfew on 22nd March, 2020 to contain the spread of corona virus, the people were shocked and caught unprepared. During the lockdown our normal life became quite abnormal, a small part of the human family has moved ahead, while the majority remained behind. The pain is felt in every sectors of the institution with the fundamental becoming the high tech project of investment as reported in Medias where lack of oxygen has caused immeasurable sufferings and deaths. With the second wave of COVID-19 surging beyond one’s calculation, a very important area that has caught us unprepared is in the field of education. School management, teachers and students gasp for air without due preparation and we are still at a “CROSSROADS” with regards the future of education.
New strategies for Education sector
The instant lockdown of the educational institution continues to remind us of 24th March 2020 National lockdown. We can simply say that closure of schools has left us all in complete disarray. Future of children is put to stake with lots of uncertainties. COVID crisis has made people to think new things. This situation should not make us sit down and get anxious and feel helpless, but we need to be proactive. The phrase “Think globally, act locally” is slowly seen in action today. The crisis is able to refine us – should refine us from physical to digital transformation, form classroom to virtual classes and above all from building to digital platforms.
Realities at home
Parents and children are going through immense trauma. Parents have no job and financial constrain to meet the ends of the family. Children have no longer face to face interaction in school (which they miss) and there is too much online. There are also situations where parents and children are both working online at home in a small room which could be stressful and there is a potential danger of hampering one’s over all well-being. The worst traumatic situation is for children from poor families who could not afford gadgets for online class. This adds dissatisfaction to students mentally and physically leaving them behind in the new race for knowledge. School management should also understand the unexpressed pain and concerns of the prevailing realities at home.
Good governance in crisis situation
The Trinitarian combination of school management, teachers and students + parents, becomes a must in the learning process. Revisiting the vision and mission of education has become a must. Strategic planning and sound policy making has become the need of the hour. Collaboration and engagement of these Trinitarian has to be dealt with co-operation and communication with steps necessary to respond to the given situational crisis. School management have to facilitate innovative ideas and actions even from the teachers, parents and students. With new normal, this points us to the fact that education is to be thought of not only in a blissful environment but education and learning is also a continuous process even in a situation of crisis and global pandemic.
Teacher- Student management in digital learning
The first and foremost requirement in digital learning is change in the THOUGHT PROCESS. There must be significant and paradigm change in the thought process of the management, teacher and students in the way we look at education, because it has moved to digital and virtual learning. Students have to develop critical thinking and emotional maturity. If learning does not solve/understand a problem, then it cannot be call as learning. Knowledge has to be created not transferred. Teacher needs to develop a digital competence that helps connect with students and parents, which will help make up for moral and emotional formation of the student. Adapting to digital learning needs humility and patience in re-skilling technology. Unlearning the previous teaching skill and re-learning and adapting to digital platform have become the need of the hour. Creative and innovative learning should be an uncompromised priority. Teachers have to be dynamic in learning at the same time school management also should upgrade constantly the education system.
Overcoming the crisis situation
Every adversity has its positive sides. Another such positive side is that crisis and challenged has made us to learn and turn them into opportunities. It has not only taught us survival but revival as well. We have become Techno-savvy and tech-friendly. The mindset of management and staff is made more open to digital learning from physical learning. Digital literacy has become non-negotiable tool in pursuit for knowledge.
A severe competition of “Exist or Exit” is brought to our doorstep. We are given today a responsibility either to build buildings or build capacity. The crisis has made the education system to evolve in many ways. A visionary leadership need to evolve from the school management, an apt digital competency need to surge from the teaching staff, and an openness of changed mindset to learning have to emerge from the students. Thus reinventing and restructuring our education system is a must in post-Covid education system. To conclude let me quote the words of Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, “The entire world is facing the crisis of corona together. Soon, we will learn to live with corona virus and the school too will open up eventually, however, this also means that new ideas of learning have to be scripted.”
The writer is a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Imphal, Manipur. Presently he is the Vice Principal of Sacred Heart Hr. Sec. School, Hungpung, Ukhrul. You can reach him at [email protected]