At the outset, I would like to record my appreciation to every teacher for tireless efforts in overcoming the Corona 2019 pandemic successfully. With dedication, most of the teachers have acquired new skills required for online courses and did not allow any disruptions in the pursuit of completing the courses for last two years. In addition to daily duties, teachers have overcome sufferings caused by corona and helped near and dear ones to overcome the same. Many might have suffered personal losses but these have not shattered their resolve to proceed with their noble assignment. After almost two years, the schools are scheduled to open shortly with several precautions.
Many schools have 100% results. This is definitely a very positive outcome and each of the teachers deserves a pat on back for this outstanding achievement. It indicates teachers are on the right direction. The question to be asked is: whether we can be complacent about the state of affairs or we need to do anything more from where we are?
In management there is a concept called SWOT. This is a simple but useful management framework analysing the organisation’s Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It helps you to build on what you do well, to address what you’re lacking, to minimize risks, and to take the greatest possible advantage of chances for success.
I propose to put before you a few of my ideas. Feel free to correct me where you consider it necessary. The ideas I am mentioning are only by way of example and need not be considered as comprehensive or absolute truth. This is an exercise where I need each teacher to introspect and participate as vigorously as one can. This is a non-ending exercise and needs to be undertaken from time to time whether we need to redefine our goals and whether we are on the right track? . Following list is only by way of example and it is not exhaustive.
In my opinion, the strengths may be listed as under:
- The students you are getting are mostly belonging to privileged class. The parents of these children are very well aware of the importance of education. There is rarely a student who leaves the study as s/he cannot afford it due to financial difficulties. There is also no much absenteeism among students due to addiction among the parents or among the students.
- You have excellent supporting staff from non-teaching category, which is more than willing to help you in all your requirements. All branches including establishment, accounts are prompt in attending to your needs.
- You have excellent logistics including comfortable building, spacious ground, updated library which challenges and nourishes to your mental & physical requirements constantly.
- There is very supportive and progressive management which keeps on supporting in your legal actions as well as aspirations of students, teachers and non-teaching staff.
- Most of the study is exam oriented and governed by the prescribed syllabus, leaving very little room to teach anything else beyond the text books
- Students are intelligent but lack in confidence and are not sure what courses they should pursue beyond their school days.
- There is no rapport between the students and you once they are out of the school
- Individually students are bright, but collectively they are unable to achieve the goals and make a poor team.
- Students are not exposed to skills in doing research and hence cannot even give references properly
- Most of the students are not aware of Intellectual property rights and indulge in plagiarism without any hesitation
- Most of the times you keep on teaching history of the subject which is irrelevant, boring and time consuming. As a result, students are not aware about the present day challenge, or innovations in respective fields.
- You have no time to discuss about real life problems and thus students are ignorant or uninterested in appreciating these
- Students live in complete protected environment either at house or in school. They are afraid of facing day to day difficulties and feel completely lost once they are out of the protected environment.
- There is no flexibility to encourage students to pursue the subjects or hobbies thy like. Everyone is expected to excel in studies and score high percentage. Else s/he is considered as unfit and laggard.
- How many of the students are aware about Indian values, Indian practices and Indian spiritual wealth as available to us from Upanishadas, Ramayana, Mahabharat, Bhagavat, Arthashstra, Punchatantra and many other classics? According to a management study, successful leaders admitted they took impromptu decisions in critical situations, on the basis of stories heard by them in young days. Narration of these stories without asking them to mention what did you learn, helps the students to draw upon the lessons as learnt by them in a positive way.
- In traditional as well as upcoming streams, excellent institutes are now available to pursue higher studies
- Practically in every field where after completing schooling, there are several bright opportunities to pursue. Thus there is no reason for any student to feel frustrated just because s/he did not score high percentage of marks in academics.
- While one is pursuing his or her study, one can look forward for work experience by selecting to undergo internship at a place of one’s own choice
- Studying abroad is no longer only a distant dream. There are so many countries which are offering scholarships, student exchange programs or financial assistance to those who are keen in studying abroad.
- Immediately after the schooling, admission to top educational institutes by undergoing competitive examinations is available for hardworking and sincere students. There are numerous levels of entry in services and every year thousands of candidates are selected.
- The entire knowledge about these institutes and career opportunities is easily accessible through internet to everyone.
- There is no book, or information which one cannot be accessed, while sitting comfortably at home through internet.
- In fact we are living today in knowledge revolution. On every subject, excellent videos are available through internet; YouTube etc. so before the teacher teaches any subject, the students are well versed about the same.
- Not much importance is given to underline the significance of integrity, good character. Instead of emphasising on process, we teach students to become result oriented.
- Basic traits of courteous behaviour are not introduced
- Caring for vulnerable sections and empathy for the downtrodden is unknown. India’s new National Education Policy (2020) mentions social and emotional learning as an important facet of education. SEL is the process of learning to recognise and manage emotions and navigate social situations effectively. SEL supports skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
- Absence of physical exercises and introduction of junk food is taking a toll on students at early age. Outdoor sports are a great relief as well as a teacher in training them to overcome defeats, adjust with each other as well as to refresh their brains and dedicate for studies.
- Diseases and disorders including diabetes, obesity, blood pressure, stress, frustrations, and tendency to commit suicides which were noticed at later stage in life are present among students at early age.
- Addiction to drugs alcohol, smoking is increasing among students. Number of students becoming juveniles and indulging in heinous crimes is rising every day. Many of them belong to affluent sections of the society. Instead of denying the existence of these problems, we need to admit their presence, sensitise students and parents against the same.
- Students have curiosity and free access to pornographic films from early days and are keen to practice the same. Many incidents of attacks on colleagues resulting into murders have been registered. Incidents of rapes are increasing among girls of minor age and on many occasions, the accused are also minors. Time has come when we need to alert the young students about spread of AIDS and other health hazards to protect our youth from upcoming disasters. Students need sensitisation to adhere to safety measures on roads including wearing of helmets, not to use mobiles while driving, not to drive after drinking etc.
- Due to inadequate attention from parents, and having access to money, students fall in bad habits and do not hesitate to turn into juveniles and commit even heinous offenses including murders, rapes, robberies and thefts.
- Many students are victims of cyber offences and are also perpetuating the same.
- In advanced countries, there is hardly any student who has not been imprisoned for drunkenness, drunken driving, or consumption of drugs. As the family ties get broken up around us here, these problems are no more distant from us as well.
- Indulging in corrupt practices is becoming a new norm and there is no shame for the same. Many intelligent CEOs of MNCs have recently been imprisoned for their corrupt practices.
- In the context of New Education Policy, devising the curriculum, training the teachers accordingly is going to become the most important challenge to all of you in the days to come.
My suggestion to all of you would be to prepare students with modern mind-set to face the world after they step in the same. Please update your knowledge about the subjects you are teaching and do not hesitate to tell the students, “I don’t know, I will study and get back after studying it.” Encourage students to ask questions, allow them participation in the classrooms. Unless they question you, they would not be in a position to find answers to the problems to be faced by them. Teach them to think critically and not to remember answers provided by teachers. The aim should be to provide “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” as outlined by UN’s sustainable development goal.
After the Asian financial crisis around the year 2000, a survey was made in countries including, South-Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand to find out what went wrong. The answer was, the students were never permitted even to look up to the teacher to ask any questions. Teach the students to face failures in life and remain firm to their values by having unhesitant faith in all mighty even in the midst of worst possible calamities. With efforts in the right manner, they would certainly overcome any challenge.
Let me conclude by stressing the fact that Corona 2019 pandemic appears to be behind us, we don’t know whether it may erupt with new vigour. It may still linger on and hence precautions including vaccination by all as and when it becomes available are imperative. Meanwhile Corona pandemic has underlined the digital divide among the students. Each one of us has to think about it seriously as the scars left behind by Corona would continue to be felt for several years to come. Let’s take it as an opportunity and take advantage of the technical revolution. Unlearn many of the wasteful practices of the past and build-up on the new skills. Remember, success of students is your success.
Author: Praveen Dixit, IPS
Former DGP, Maharashtra.
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