The school education department in March this year released a new academic planner for educational institutions for current year. The 12 page document was released with a hope to make a government school truly Children Centric which is carefully designed to suit the needs and interests of the students. The academic planner was released a day after the schools across valley reopened after a gap of over seven months including two month long winter vacation. The schools and higher educational institutions were closed on August 04 last year after Government of India (GoI) abrogated Article 370 from J&K constitution.
Keeping in view the academic losses of students and the challenges faced by the department amid closure of the schools last year, the planner was released this year which included various activities to achieve the desired goals. Besides academics, the planner has in-depth plans for co-curriculum activities as well.
But a million dollar question is how the planner is implemented as desired by the department, amid the closure of educational institutions in the wake of the nationwide lockdown. Apart from the academic planner, the department also devised institutional planner for each schools with an aim to fill the vacuum in the current understanding of education systems and provide the basis for further educational development. It envisages to understand the vision, mission and goals of an institution in the planning process by way of which it can become aware of different plans and organizing skills required as a school teacher and head of the institution.
While the department was holding orientation of school heads, teachers and other officers for successful implementation of the academic planner, the educational institutions were closed followed by the national wide lockdown announced in wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
As part of the policy, a school should have around 180 working days from November 01 to October 31 next year excluding winter break, summer break and other scheduled holidays. The academic year commences in October month and culminates in November next year. In case of valley schools, the students have already lost more than 50 working days in the beginning of the current academic session. The schools were shut in November month last year and again continue to remain closed in wake of COVID-19 outbreak. Amid these challenging circumstances, it becomes a herculean task for the department to implement the academic planner successfully.
The prevailing situation has once again thrown up a major challenge for the department to successfully implement the planner at school level. The academic planner suggests that the schools should understand the needs of alternative education and integrate it into the curriculum besides develop in the student and teachers the classroom management skills.
“Prepare the student and teachers in using different tools and techniques for continuous and comprehensive evaluation,” it reads.
Amid the crises, it has becomes tough for the school education department to engage the students with classes in traditional classrooms. While the teachers are trying their best to impart education to the students with whatever facilities available to compensate the academic losses, but it cannot fade away the essence of the traditional classroom for the students. The students must be feeling comfortable attending school from home but it is very difficult to sit through the lectures because of the chances of getting monotonous at times due to which the students will lose their concentration. Already the internet connectivity is not good for all students in Valley- especially a major lot of those students living in far off areas without internet facility.
Also, it not possible to maintain teacher-student links in virtual classrooms which becomes one of the major concerns if department tries to replace the traditional classroom with the virtual classrooms. Having said this, amid the prevailing crises setting up virtual classrooms or engaging students through Zoom application or other digital platforms has become the need of the hour despite teachers facing technical glitches in the process.
Even if setting up virtual classrooms is being treated as a backup process but teaching in a classroom setting is still a training tool needed for the future, especially as a means of learning how to lead, instruct and engage students in any type of classroom setting. The virtual classroom cannot replace the traditional classroom because it is by its very essence or nature not completely real.
Now coming back to academic planner. In the prevailing circumstances it is not possible to think about the implementation of the academic planner but crises management. Amid tough situations, the teachers are collectively working at forefront with sole aim to compensate the academic losses of students.
Not only the school system, but the lockdown due to COVID-19 has altered life for everyone and affected all the major social structures. But we should keep our hopes high and be optimistic about the resumption of the classwork in schools and the implementation of the academic planner will go on.