The on & off pattern in education over the last 18 months, and the uncertainty of when education systems, schools, colleges and higher education could return to normal or the new normal, seems like a million dollar question in India for sure, but also, I believe, in many other parts of the world.
How do we deal with the situation we are in? What is the way forward? What does it mean to the students, parents, families, communities, educators, professions, businesses, and the people at large?
I ponder about it, but I am afraid I don’t have the answers; probably no one has perfect solutions. I am sure numerous thinkers have a strategy — one or more — from now to the end-of-pandemic (whenever that is), and from there to the new normal.
It was amusing to have received the report card of my grandson, and it said “Congratulations on his promotion from Lower KG to Upper KG”! He and his age group have not been to school for 90% of the academic year. While there was really no other option, I wonder about the cumulative impact such missing academic years will have on children of all age groups, and on the community itself.
Students who were in their first and second years of professional education —medicine, engineering, legal, accountancy etc. — have done their learning mostly online. Imagine learning anatomy and surgery courses online, or engineering graphics and electrical circuits online, and similarly subject areas for other careers that need peer group interaction, interaction with expert faculty, working in laboratories, doing projects, internships etc.
When they graduate, maybe 3-4 years from now, they would be the experts that we would consult, and they would not be practical in approach unless their learning is reinforced, and they are carefully mentored by their seniors with the intent to build their expertise and skills to make them competent. That kind of mentoring can be planned and initiated now, in addition to staying within the boundary of ‘learning online’. Sounds like the best we can do at this juncture!