Monday, September 27, 2021
Home Education Parliamentary Standing Committee: 'Learning loss is acquiring critical dimensions'

Parliamentary Standing Committee: ‘Learning loss is acquiring critical dimensions’

NEW DELHI: “Online education is not a real education,” opined the “Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports”. In its report on “Plans to bridge the learning gap … and plans for re-opening of schools” it recommended an accentuated vaccine programmes for all students, teachers and allied staff, physical classes on alternate days and developing a blended mode of education based on the experiences during the COVID-19. The committee submitted its report to the Parliament on Friday.

As per the report, the Indian education system saw disruption affecting nearly 32 crore students. Focusing its attention on the impact of the pandemic on school education and the remedial action required, the committee observed that most of rural, remote areas lack digital facilities indicating a huge digital divide and “about 70% of the country does not have access to internet connectivity and available quality of connectivity is poor.”

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Commenting that though the department of school education, union ministry of education, claimed around 85% students were connected with the online classes and the remaining students were being approached with other modes, “… the ground reality is completely different…,” and that “around 70% go to government schools which lack even the basic infrastructural facilities and to assume that they would have digital infrastructural facilities would be unrealistic.”
The report mentioned that the crisis exacerbated pre-existing education disparities by reducing the opportunities for many of the most vulnerable children, youth and adults. It cited the deposition by the department of school education and literacy, where the secretary submitted that the total closure of educational institutions during the Covid-19 pandemic has affected roughly 24 Crore school children, out of which 12 crore children are from Classes I to V and six crores each from Classes VI to VIII and IX to XII. “This caused huge instructional loss and jolted the routine lives of students,” said the report.

Observing that disruption of physical school activities is likely to impair the cognitive capabilities of students, according to the report, lack of digital facilities and “adaptation either because of inaccessibility of technology or the educational backgrounds of their parents to guide them” has “contributed towards learning loss among students of all classes and regions,” and due to continued cessation of classes learning loss is acquiring critical dimensions.

Stating that immediate remedial steps are required, the Committee noted that the learning loss of more than “one whole academic year would necessarily have weakened the foundational knowledge of the students especially in the subjects of mathematics, sciences and languages at school level. This learning loss is a big deficit and is likely to impair the cognitive capabilities of students. This might have a debilitating effect on vulnerable sections of the society like poor and rural students, marginalized sections of society and young women who might have been unable to connect to any form of digital education during the pandemic.”

The Committee made multiple suggestions to bridge the gaps caused by the academic disruptions and so that the basic foundation of learning is not compromised. The recommendations include getting out of school children back to school with incentives like study material, digital devices, nutritional food, learning loss assessment of every student, intensive bridge courses, recorded online courses/ Massive Open Online Courses in all regional languages for each class, making available high-speed internet connectivity and at least one TV set, one desktop computer, large screens with projectors in all schools by governments, leveraging private sector to provide digital devices to students belonging to economically weaker and marginalized sections, and a credible, fair and transparent system of continuous assessment, among others.

328th Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports report on “Plans to Bridge the Learning Gap caused due to School Lockdown as well as Review of Online and Offline instructions and examinations and plans for re-opening of Schools.”

OBSERVATIONS

* Around 320 million children in India have not stepped into a classroom for more than a year and have lost a tenth of their entire schooling already

* Covid-19 pandemic has affected roughly 24 Crore school children, out of which 12 Crore children are from Classes 1 to 5 and 6 Crore each from Classes 6 to 8 and 9 to 12

* Ministry’s own sample survey in respect of KVs showed that only 5 and 0.5 per cent students used television and radio for online education

* Only 11.58% schools across the country has internet facilities

* Only 33.8% students, 29.6% teachers and 27.2% parents found online education joyful

* The increased drop-out rates at the Secondary level (17% Boys and 15.1% Girls) in the UDISE Report, 2019-20 is also indicative of the adverse impact of school closure and digital divide on children

* About 70 per cent of the country does not have access to internet connectivity and available quality of connectivity is poor

* Only 23% of the students had access to devices to attend online classes so the remaining 77% of the students were deprived of the attending online classes

* Department of school education informed that a budget of Rs 1181.31 crore was allotted to 25 States for digital/ online education


RECOMMENDATIONS


Learning loss

* Intensive bridge courses and accelerated learning programmes

* Subject-wise learning outcome assessment

* Extra classes, curtailment of vacations, assigning expert teachers for personalized coaching

* Formative assessments, like ChatBot Assessment

Proper documentation and data collection

* Learning loss assessment immediately across the country covering each and every student

* Comparison of basic reading, writing and arithmetical skills outcomes with pre-Covid results

* Bring back out of school children to with incentives like study material, digital devices, nutritional food

* Comparative study/analysis on the impact of online/digital/distant education during the pandemic

DIGITAL EDUCATION

* Recorded online courses/ Massive Open Online Courses in all regional languages for each class

* An Integrated Learning Management System, a software application for the overall administration

* Augmented and Virtual Reality Education solutions

DIGITAL DIVIDE

* Ministries/ departments should make available high-speed internet connectivity & at least one TV set, one desktop computer, large screens with projectors in all schools

* Leverage private sector expertise and resources through effective collaboration to provide digital devices to students belonging to economically weaker and marginalized sections

* Provision of internet packs at concessional rates to students particularly from economically backward and marginalized sections

EXAMINATIONS AND ASSESSMENTS

* A credible, fair and transparent system of continuous assessment throughout the year

* Guidelines for internal assessment, practicals, project work

SCHOOL RE-OPENING GUIDELINES DURING THE COVID-19

* Accentuated vaccine programmes for all students, teachers and allied staff

* Classes may be held on alternate days or in two shifts to thin out students

* Each school should have at least two oxygen concentrators

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