BENGALURU: Schoolers over the past eight months have been subject to various modes of learning. Now a study finds has substantiated the claim about online classes being inefficacious for a large number of students, but also reveals that a vast majority of parents are ready to send their children to school.
Almost 90% of parents are willing to send their children to school if the health of their children is taken care of when schools reopen, and close to 65% were of the opinion that reopening of schools would not pose a problem for their children’s health, found a study by the Azim Premji University (APU).
APU published a report on the ‘Myths of Online Education’ on Tuesday, where it has studied the experiences of students and teachers in online education in the most disadvantaged geographies across India. As many as 1,522 public schools in 26 districts spanning five states -- Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Uttarakhand were part of the study. The latter two states had not implemented state-level initiatives for online methods of teaching.
Teachers in the implementing states reported that out of 30,511 children who attended regular classes, only 11,474 were actually attending online classes. Which meant that around 60 percent of children were unable to access online learning opportunities.
They also expressed professional frustrations in conducting online classes, with as many as 80% of teachers of a total of 1,522 teachers who were interviewed, finding it completely impossible to maintain an emotional connect with children during online classes, which thus eliminates the very basis of education.
The ICT-based learning options for school-going children have been particularly ineffective due to the deeply intimate nature of learning that is needed in the formative years of schooling and a lack of infrastructure with children that has left them out of the learning process, the researchers said.
And more than 90% of teachers felt that no meaningful assessment of children’s learning was possible during online classes.
In addition to this, more than half the teachers (54%) expressed that their knowledge and user-experience of online platforms and modes of teaching were inadequate. As many as 71% of the 634 teachers who were implementing online learning were using WhatsApp as a medium.
Access to gadgets remained a major concern from the students' end. Teachers and parents revealed that more than 60% of the children could not access online education opportunities either due to non-availability of or an inadequate number of smartphones (due to siblings who were also schoolers) and difficulty in using the apps for online learning.
The access was further exacerbated for children with disabilities, with 90% of the teachers who taught such students, revealing that these were unable to participate in online classes.
The researchers thereby point to the urgent need for the phased reopening of schools with adequate health and safety provisions for children and teachers in government schools. It recommends context-based, direct teaching-learning solutions with the physical presence of teachers during the transition period of the reopening of public schools.