Azad Hussain

Encouraging community schooling

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The separation of students from teachers,  which hinders the actual class room teaching,  due to lockdown for unexpected length of time has depressive for teachers despite switching over to online classes. Most of the teachers are eagerly waiting for the situation “which arose out of the covid-19 pandemic” to normalise so that the schools reopen and they perform their duties as they did  formally in schools, prior to outbreak of covid-19.

No doubt, teachers are in touch with students  through various channels of online modes of teaching on zoom, on watts app, through voice calling etc. However there are still thousands of students in Jammu and Kashmir UT, from remote areas who don’t have a good access to internet. Moreover the online modes of teaching in Jammu and Kashmir have not fully satisfied the teachers to reach out to students with full fervor, particularly at elementary level, not only due to poor internet connectivity but poor response from the students. The students of lower age groups, who study in elementary classes, are difficult to motivate and control at a distance through online modes of teaching.  Effective teaching is incomplete without effective learning by learners, that is why the teachers have been trying to opt for other possible ways of teaching.

So many of the teachers who belong to remote rural  areas have switched over to the new ways of teaching, apart from their continuity of teaching through online. Some pictures, of teachers and students, on social media, from past few weeks, have appeared in which the  teachers  are being seen, teaching a little number of students in the lawns of houses or at lonely places with adherence  of social distancing and other safety measures recommend for containment of Covid-19.

These alternative ways of teaching have been appreciated by all. Even commissioner secretary education Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon  has praised the teachers for the initiative and has virtually recommend the same by posting some pictures of those classes on his twitter handle and terming these ways of teaching “the community schooling”. According to the tweet from the commissioner secretary education, “all local teachers, masters, lecturers, may volunteer for “Community Schooling” within their locality/mohalla/village with parental support while strictly adhering SoPs / Social distancing and preventive measures.

This is a good suggestion because teachers as well as students have been holed up inside their homes. Teachers are trying their level best to come out from their homes to work in actual class rooms to help students. But under the prevailing circumstances of Covid-19, it seems that, as of now, there are  only two  possible options of teaching available  for a teacher,  either an  online mode of teaching or the community schooling.

It is good thing that teachers have been asked to volunteer their services for community schooling with preventive measures and every teacher is very much eager to take this initiative  to  serve the community. However prior to making sure that community schooling is put in place, various things need to be taken care of. The preventive measures should be well defined like  in case of red zones should it be permissible, should the teachers enquire about the health backgrounds of the families of students prior to bringing them to community schooling,  what should be the maximum number of students in a class, what should be the catchment area of students for one teacher. These things definitely matter when we talk of preventive measures, and safety of students.

If these things didn’t matter at all, then why all the schools are not thrown open in rural areas where the students have their schools just in their neighborhoods.

Since the teachers are eagerly waiting for any good option of teaching other than online reaching, the community schooling could prove as a good  alternative (at least in villages) but the preventive measures are needed to be well defined by authorities, after the  deliberations  with all stakeholders of the education department.

  • The author is a regular columnist, and a teacher by profession and can be reached at [email protected]

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