Education Deptt switches to community schooling to compensate for academic losses

The school education department has switched over to community classes to compensate the academic losses of the students amid the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.

After the educational institutions were closed in the second week of March due to the spread of the pandemic, the department started online classes for students to compensate for their academic losses. The department prepared e-content for students from primary to higher secondary level which was kept available on the official website of the directorate.

However, due to slow internet speed students usually in far off areas of some districts like Bandipora, Kupwara and Baramulla were not able to attend these classes or the content due to non-availability of smart phones or poor internet connectivity.

According to officials, it was observed that there was a gap between tutor and the students in online mode of education which was taking a toll on the child academically and psychologically.

To address this issue, the department decided to start community schooling at zonal level wherein teachers will take classes of students in their local habitations.

“In some districts, we received the feedback that most of the students were not able to avail the benefit of online education. Though our teachers would deliver the hard copy of the study material at the doorsteps of these students, but still there was disparity in it,” said Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK) Muhammad Younis Malik.

He said the teachers took an initiative to start community classes in their locality and conducted classes of students in open. “It started in cut off areas in Ganderbal, Bandipora and other areas and later got replicated in other districts as well,” he said.

The community classes are conducted on a daily basis by the teachers in order to compensate academic losses. The initiative gained momentum over the past weeks as the community classes witnessed maximum participation of students across Valley.

“In community classes, teachers have direct contact with students, an eye contact is better than the virtual classes. It helps children in developing their cognitive skills, a school-like environment is provided to children,” said Umar Bhat, teacher from Chandoosa zone of Baramulla district.

He said students are involved in many activities, like home based assignments, class work which in turn keep students busy throughout the day and it saves them from any mischievous act.

“The community schooling helps us to keep students busy and also provides a feasible and conducive atmosphere for the teaching learning process,” he said.

Teachers believe that community classes give an opportunity to teachers to interact with students in a classroom kind of atmosphere.

“It gives students the sense of being taught and helps to learn in a classroom type of environment. We can make the attendance of students possible in a community class as sometimes students skip the online classes. Evaluation is possible in a community class too,” Umar Bhat said.

The authorities have however issued instructions to the teachers to follow health advisory and sanitization of selected sites for the teaching learning process and encourage community partnership in the initiative.

In Baramulla district alone, around 30,000 students have been approached by the teachers who are participating in the community schooling. For this, NITI Ayog has appreciated the initiative taken by the Baramulla district administration.

“Aspirational district Baramulla has conducted open-air community classes for 30,000 students while maintaining social distance in far flung areas of district through coordination with Panchayat Raj institutions,” NITI Ayog tweeted from its official twitter handle.