BY SHAHZADA AKHTER
The social change goes-on continuously; but the schooling system cannot remain stagnant. The schooling environment must keep up with the changing society.
The educational policy cannot be made, or changed, every season. Rather the school system ought to be sensitive to the changes that occur, assess the implications and maintain the vision of education.
The shift to online education during the Covid-19 was made to keep the children in learning-state and save their time. It brought the entire student community including primary classes face-to-face with e-education as never before.
While there may be a need to access the online available information to enrich the knowledge, the loss of human interaction is taking concrete roots.
This disconnect between the students and the teachers can have serious implications on the development of the students, as Rabindranath Tagore calls, “complete human-beings”.
Changing School Environment
A clear indication of today’s sad affairs is that the schools are almost reduced to ‘examination centres’, and tuition centres have become the ‘preparation stations’.
The attendance of students has remained generally low since Covid-19. There is a visible change in the student community. They are not eager for class attendance and interactions. Instead, the online study material and private tuitions have become major attractions.
This problem is as true of sciences as in humanities and social sciences. Nevertheless, it is becoming more rampant than ever before. This ‘loss of interaction’ has not only implications on the learning process, but also on the desired goal of education, that is, holistic development of children.
The student-teacher interaction has academic, emotional, ethical, and psychological dimensions, et al. The ‘care’ and ‘respect’ of teacher-student relationship does not develop well in an environment where students turn to school to appear in exams only and receive their certificates.
Over the past few years, I could see that the emotional transaction is nowhere occurring in schools. This bond between teachers and students would have an immense influence on the psychological development of students. The school environment has a cooling effect on the psychological and emotional disturbances of the students. But, the school system has changed a lot. It is no longer the primary centre of student activities.
The coaching centre's approach is mechanically driven by monetary motives, and does not contribute to holistic development. The lack of schooling environs has added on to the psychological problems of the students. Such an environment throws new challenges to the teaching community.
Less of Administration, More of Leadership
School system works under a conventional administrative ecosystem which is more or less like ‘executive-magistrate’ style of functioning. Schools do not need the administration of the colonial era characterized by boss-subordinate culture. School education has its own peculiar ecosystem that is dynamic and ever-changing.
Any controlling mechanism ought to live up to the changing environment. A fixed feudal culture cannot address the emerging problems of the school system. There is a need for school-level ‘Leadership’ that takes each school as a distinct unit within a sub-social system.
For this reason, there is a realisation that the educational system is to work under “Samagra Shiksha” (Integrated Education) that approaches the education system “holistically” with a major feature of “Administrative Reform”.
The Samagra Shiksha Scheme (Policy Document, Ministry of Education, 12thOctober 2022) expresses inherent flexibility by focusing on Community Mobilisation “to identify community priorities, resources, needs and solutions in such a way as to promote representative participation, good governance, accountability and peaceful change” (p. 227). Schools, therefore, do not need “administrators” as heads of institutions (HoI), but leaders who are able to assess the holistic development of the students.
Our present school environment will face huge problems in adapting with this new requirement for being cocooned in ‘feudal-type administration’. From a mere head of academic centre, the school leader has to engage with the community at large to make the school system work through collaboration with community leaders, local representatives, civil society, professionals, etc. and lead the student community towards life in a holistic manner. There is a diffusion in power. But, will the administrative system reform and recognize the dynamic changes occurring in society?
Addressing Moral and Emotional Deficit
The student community is oscillating between coaching centres that prepare them for examinations and schools where the latter are held. The human interaction between the students and the teachers is no longer a serious business in the present school environment.
The moral and emotional side of the students’ personality do not receive nourishment.
And the emotional attachment that is so important for the personality development of the children is nowhere in the scene. And the worry is that it is not being addressed.
It is not so difficult to imagine the implications of the loss of human interaction. The rigidity of the administration-driven system is only adding to the moral and emotional deficit. The teachers do ideally offer cushion to the challenges faced by the students. The policy intervention, however, is needed to enable them to be more than mere academic counsellors.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.