Novel, impractical education plan in times of novel coronavirus

Published: 00:00, May 07,2021


MANAGERS of national education appear to be floundering as they come up with novel education plans, one after another, after the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, caused the Covid outbreak, which has persisted for more than a year now. Soon after Covid-19 broke out in early March 2020, the managers in question started airing outreach classes on television and radio, with many educational institutions beginning online teaching, hoping to make up for lost classes. But the finding that not many students could attend online or outreach classes in the absence of an access to television or radio, devices to connect online and inadequate or no internet connectivity, as it came out in a government study in October that year, negated the government efforts. The government then published the results of the 2020 Higher Secondary Certificate Examinations and equivalents based on the results of the Secondary School Certificate and Junior School Certificate examinations and equivalents of the students. The government this year is heard of trying out a move to hold public examinations online, which could be disastrous without ensuring adequate infrastructure and teacher training. The managers are now heard of trying to officially instruct government primary teachers to visit communities and teach students in the localities without the scope for participating in distance learning.

The minister of state for primary education says that keeping to his instruction in March, several teachers and upazila primary education officials conducted classes by visiting some communities before the enforcement of restrictions on public movement on April 5 this year. After the restrictions are withdrawn, the managers may send teachers to the communities and gather students at places close by and take classes if schools cannot be reopened for the Covid outbreak. While there is hardly any alternative to classroom teaching in the present context in Bangladesh, sending teachers to communities to take classes rather than asking students to come to schools for classroom teaching entails the same risks of Covid infection — from teachers to students and from students to teachers. Teachers also say that such a mechanism is not only risky, but is also impractical as the infection threat remains. If teachers can teach students in the communities with adherence to health safety protocols, the students could also come to schools, at least in turn, if the government can ensure health safety protocols. Sending teachers to communities cannot not be another form of distance learning, or teaching, when online teaching has failed in the absence of adequate infrastructure — an uninterrupted internet connectivity and devices to connect online. National education managers appear to be doing experiments in finding an alternative to an effective online teaching, which has been left ignored for years and none of the efforts could engage students in studies.

This is time that national education mangers stopped coming up with novel teaching plans. The government must, rather, do some groundwork, speak to stakeholders and work out a comprehensive plan, instead.

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