The pandemic has thrown up multiple challenges to our education system. However, with better infra, training and quick adaption to emerging challenges, some schools have beaten the challenges hands down.  Sikata Das, Member Entrepreneur of Takshila School, talks about a range of subjects impacting the new age education. Excerpts of an interview with her.

How do you find online education?  Will it eclipse the importance of offline format?

During a crisis situation like Covid-19 pandemic, offering education online became a necessity.  However, young kids are not used to this type of teaching. Especially, homes, where there are multiple kids, making devices available to each one of them, was not feasible. Schools had no infrastructure for online teaching. Teachers had to be trained in online teaching.  Even now, lots of classes run online. However, there is no substitute for offline education. The importance of classroom teaching will always be there. Sport is also essential for students till Class VIII. As there were no alternatives left, students were forced to switch to online education during Covid times.

How has Covid affected school education?

The Covid pandemic has affected education. Our country does not have enough infrastructure for online education. Those in urban areas could avail online teaching. But students in rural areas were deprived of this as they don’t have access to smartphones. Network issues had also nagged the process. Reducing the size of the course curriculum was not a solution. After schools were shut for a full year, there is no point in cutting the size of the curriculum.  Students who were not taught the full syllabus will sure find it difficult to fare in their later life.

Corona situation has improved now. However, the virus has not completely gone. In view of this, what sort of safety measures should be taken in schools?

Science has made rapid progress. At this time, we have to move with caution. Vaccines have come early. Yet, it will take a while before everybody has been vaccinated. All safety measures must be practised in schools. Students must be told to stick to safety norms as before. To ensure social distancing in schools, there is a need to split large classes into small sections. Social distancing in schools must be adhered to even in the next year. This may be a challenge, but it is a necessity. Mask usage has already caught on with students. They are seen wearing face masks even during play classes. Parents must do their bit when it comes to practising safety norms.

There has been a lot of pressure on kids and parents alike during Covid time. What is your advice for this?

Students and parents were under tremendous pressure during Covid. To help matters, we have arranged motivational classes, talks and seminars in schools to boost the mental strength of students and parents. Besides motivational talks, we have organised webinars for parents. Students come under pressure as they confine themselves to indoors.

How do you think the new education policy will catalyze changes in education?

This is a well-considered move by the government. It will take five to 10 years to fully implement the policy. Our state does not have an education policy. If implemented well, the new policy will bring in a lot of benefits to our country.

Students suffer from the burden of parental expectations. How do you view this?

It is not correct for parents to have undue expectations from children. We should understand the psyche of students. Not all are destined to do well in studies. Students will perform according to their natural talents. Each of them should not be expected to score high marks. They must be allowed to pursue their own areas of interest.

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