The education system in India has suffered with one of the longest disruptions and deprivation of the learning process due to school closure, and Karnataka is no exception to this. Because of this, a majority of children - especially from marginalised communities - were deprived of their fundamental right to education and other supportive rights, including nutrition and well-being.
It is needless to say that children with special needs, and girls from marginalised communities have been impacted much more. A majority of them have also been deprived of care and protection, as provided in the Constitution, and other international legal instruments including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Multiple strategies need to be developed appropriately by rising to the occasion and meeting the needs of the children to cope with the situation. But a standard response of one-size-fits-all does not work in this situation. A more decentralised planning and execution would make more sense at this point of time.
The proposed interventions should include academic, cognitive, psycho-social and emotional needs of children for holistic growth to address physical, psychological and educational needs of the children. Re-engaging children with education and strengthening their "learning to learn" abilities is one of the most challenging tasks before the state. To address the learning deprivation, competencies that are foundational and core in each subject and grade can be used as the basis to plan their learning trajectory.
The competencies should be graded and progressively organised, varying in complexities across classes to help teachers address multi-level learners in their classrooms. Bypassing this process and proceeding to grade-level competencies can lead to disengaged learners and more dropouts.
Many children of Class 1 to 5 may have never gone to school during the pandemic and online education did not make any impact on their learning. Therefore, special focus and well-designed programmes are necessary to orient them to a new environment. One teacher per class needs to be ensured.
Socio-emotional support should be provided both within and outside schools. Schools should take the initiative to link with families to support child health requirements, both physical and mental. Periodic communication with parent bodies like SDMC/SMC about schoolwork, children's progress, issues and challenges helps to involve the community in the renewal of the education process.
Consistent and continuous efforts to involve parents and the larger community in school programmes and learning activities need to be planned cautiously to enhance community participation.
Organising monthly meetings with parents in schools or in the community at a time convenient to parents would boost school-parent relationship and enhance their participation in school activities, which is crucial at this juncture. Parent meetings can also be scheduled frequently at the cluster level to interact with teachers.
Academic bodies can play a major role in resuming and renewing education, especially in helping to design and implement a restructured curriculum for a meaningful learning process.
(The author is a development educationist, mentor of SDMCs and chief advocate of Neighbourhood Common School System through State-Funded Public Education)