September 23, 2021

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Coronavirus: When and how will the school open?

The upward movement of the coronavirus epidemic continues. There is no disagreement, the biggest victims of this situation, at least in our country, are school students. No, they are not good at all. In the last one year or so, all the teachers and parents who have been talked to have had to turn around and hear the words, ‘Tell me, when will Corona go? And it does not feel good! What will happen to the children? I can’t put anything on their desk! ’I have heard this comment from many, not just one or two. Parents and teachers of primary school students are most concerned.

Sporadic efforts are being made to keep the children connected with their studies while the school is closed. Attempts are being made to continue the children’s lessons in various ways like taking classes in Zoom, communicating with WhatsApp group, talking on the phone, explaining the text to the parents, making and sending worksheets for homework. But in the final analysis, they do not seem to be able to play a significant role in continuing the education system. These are like pouring a drop of water in the Bay of Bengal. How many people have smartphones? How many people get the benefit of internet?

A recent survey by UNICEF found that at least 30 percent of children worldwide do not have access to a phone or the Internet. In Bangladesh this ratio is not less than more. According to the survey, three-quarters of the deprived are from rural and poor families. Not only in the village, but also in the city, many children dream of smartphone-like facilities. As a result, one of the worries is that many children will drop out of school due to long disconnection from school. The experience of the world says so. In Liberia, schools were closed for seven months due to the Ebola epidemic, with 25 percent of school dropouts. Experts fear that the ratio will be much higher in our country. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that the world’s fastest-declining child labor rate after 2000 could be reversed. Soon many children will be found in the cheap labor market in the world and in countries like Bangladesh.

With that, another crisis is coming down like a nightmare. An entire generation will not be able to learn anything about the subject matter of the lesson. Due to the closure of schools, 90 per cent and 82 per cent of the children are being affected in terms of language and mathematics skills respectively. After a week or two of earning, the children forget a lot, they have to learn something new. Here they have no contact with reading month after month. Many could not come to the children’s class or first class. Their condition is even more miserable.

The whole generation is going into darkness. It’s scary to guess how big the damage is. There was only one thing when there was a loss of subjects like Maths, Bengali, English, environment. The path of children to become human seems to be stuck. A lot of their mental development happens in school. Now they are lonely. Absolutely alone. Pedagogy tells us that as important as language, math, science, etc., so is the socio-emotional learning of children. Various studies have shown that children are suffering from depression due to not being able to meet friends, not being able to play, not being able to go out, not being able to connect with nature, etc., in all families, rich and poor alike. Children in affluent households may be able to learn textbooks with the help of technology, parents, private tuition, etc., and are thousands of miles ahead of their poorer classmates in the competitive market, but they are also being deprived in the process of becoming human. There is also a growing tendency among them to associate themselves with the phone or the internet, to confine themselves to an isolated world at home.

Those who are directly involved in teaching know the importance of each step in the child’s education. Once the foundation is ripe, upper class students can learn or collect a lot from themselves. But the seedlings that withered due to lack of light and water during the growing season are almost unlikely to bloom in the future. Considering the huge population of Bangladesh, such a huge waste of human resources is an irreparable loss to the society.

In such a situation, it is very important to think about the process of introducing children’s education in any way. Because we don’t have a clear picture of when Corona will go, or not at all. Already a lot of time has passed. So an education map needs to be prepared quickly. For this, a special team has to be formed from the district education office of each district, which will have representatives from different wards, unions, upazilas, municipalities / municipalities. They will compile a list of students in their area’s schools who do not have access to online education due to poverty or technical difficulties.

The next step is to start the school. The Union Parishad Chairman, Upazila Chairman, Zilla Parishad Chairman, Municipal and City Corporation Chairmen and Representatives will take care of the matter without leaving the burden of sanitation and cleanliness to the schools only. If there are more than 20 students in a classroom at a time, it is not possible to maintain mutual distance. So each batch can be brought three days a week. Many schools have 60-70 students in each class. In that case one batch will come two days a week. These children were away from lessons for about a year and a half. As a result, they need to verify how much skill they have been able to maintain. If you suddenly reduce the curriculum a lot and take an exam in Konom and take it to the upper class, the problem will increase and the books will not decrease. So the class division has to be done anew. That is,

Those who have retained some skills will be in one class; Again those who have almost forgotten everything will be in the lower class. It is also necessary to do some counseling so that they do not feel failure.

But school does not mean just sitting in class. School means sharing tiffins, sharing story books, holding hands. There is no doubt that the responsibility of teachers will increase in this new system. In this case also, the help of counseling should be taken, not the rule.

A little detailed discussion is needed on the subject of curriculum. This is to say that before starting the old curriculum, it is necessary to refine the pre-text, a specific guideline is required in this regard. Pre-lessons in the fifth grade will be based on the skills acquired in the fourth grade. And they will submit a report within a month on what the teachers are getting results. The higher committee will decide on the basis of it. The text will be on the basis of more lower class, or it will remain as it was decided at first.

At this new stage, it is necessary to rethink the equation of teacher-parent relationship. It is not known whether parent-teacher meetings are held at all in Bengali medium schools in rural areas. If not, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure it. Many times it is seen that they are like two warring opponents. But that is not supposed to happen. Mutual respect is an infallible condition here. The teacher must remember that the person he is teaching is rooted in his home. If he is not enriched, everything will be reduced to ashes. Parents also have a workplace of their own. There is a small world where he is revered. The guardian must also remember that he must be compassionate. His own circle around the child; And the family of a teacher with many such circles. He is also human, not superhuman.

Whether the epidemic really brought us to the door of an epoch will be judged only when all aspects of life begin to open up one by one. Will we still live a life where the previous people have to push and move on? Where arbitrariness hinders atrocities to a monstrous level? Is it possible to inflate one’s chest for one’s own self-interest and harm others?

Directly and indirectly involved with the education system to guide the children of this new age, can’t everyone be a little more benevolent, a little more responsible, a little more active?