Impact of COVID-19 on Education: Research studies conducted by GRAAM on “Reopening of schools” & “Parikshavani Program by GOK.”
GRAAM conducted two studies on education – “A Study to understand the Perceptions of Teachers and Parents about reopening the Public Schools in Karnataka '' and “A Study to understand the Perceptions of Students about the process of Teaching and Learning on TV Channel Chandana”.
On the backdrop of COVID-19, the Government has adopted stringent lockdown measures and strict societal norms. This has disrupted the process of teaching and learning in the schools and the students and teachers across the country are facing unprecedented situations. To understand the issues at the grassroots levels, GRAAM undertook two exploratory research studies to inform the government, civil society organizations, and major stakeholders of public education about the success and impediments of the measures being adopted by the Department of Education on teaching and learning/ related to education. The GRAAM’s studies on education includes – “A Study to understand the Perceptions of Teachers and Parents about reopening the Public Schools in Karnataka '' and “A Study to understand the Perceptions of Students about the process of Teaching and Learning on TV Channel Chandana”.
GRAAM undertook the telephonic surveys and extensive use of social media platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and LinkedIn) to understand and analyse the perceptions of the Teachers, Parents, and High-school students. The sample of the respondents in the study was purposive and non-random. A total of 880 respondents (435 Teachers, 250 Parents, and 195 High-school Students) took part in the studies. Overall teachers from 26 districts, parents from 21 districts, and high-school students from 13 districts of Karnataka took part in the study.The sample consisted of almost equivalent number of male and female respondents in both studies.
The major finding and recommendations of the study on Perceptions of Teachers and Parents about reopening the Public Schools are as follows:
- As much as 42 percent of the Parents are ready to send their children to schools if it reopens during this current academic year.
- Total 85 percent parents are worried about the chances of children forgetting whatever they have learnt till now in their previous classes. As much as 28 percent of parents express their fear about their children getting addicted to bad habits and becoming school dropouts (25 percent). GRAAM shows its serious concern in this area and suggests stakeholders to come up with an alternative measure like starting a Community Education Centre in order to maintain the continuity in the process of learning and teaching. Majority of the teachers (71 percent) strongly believe that it is not the right time to start the school. However, 31 percent of the teachers support the reopening of the Schools after August. As much as 27 percent of teachers suggest that if the situation comes under control then schools can be started in the month of September while 19 percent advise to start it from the month of October. As much as 16 percent of the teachers are not sure about the right time to open the schools and only 3 percent of teachers suggest starting the school from the next academic year. Not much difference was found when the responses were compared with the geographical area.
- Teachers state that if schools reopens in the current situation then the process of teaching and learning will face many difficulties. According to them organizing group activities will be a challenge (87 percent), providing teaching and learning materials will be difficult (58 percent) and it will be difficult to maintain physical distance (75 percent). As much as 62 percent teachers express their fear about infection spreading from one child to other children 74 percent teachers says that peer learning – an important aspect in the process of learning – will also affect to the student community in a larger scale
- Majority of the Parents responded that their children are spending their days watching television at home (76 percent) and playing with the neighbourhood kids (60 percent). However, few of them also responded that the children are busy in reading the past lessons (36 percent) and are also taking interest in reading the next grade lessons (26 percent).
- Teachers suggest that before opening the school there is a need to provide basic infrastructural facilities to the school. Teachers have listed the facilities should be provided in the schools and they are taps to provide clean water (23 percent), taps for hand-washing (14 percent), and clean space to store, cook and serve the food (69 percent). Teachers have highlighted the need to construct new classrooms (34 percent) and toilet rooms (33 percent) in the school as they fall short when compared with the number of children present in the campus. The government should look towards these basic needs and should come out with plans and strategies to solve them.
- Majority of the Parents are not ready to accept the online method of education (70 percent). Parents think that the method of online education is not affordable to them since they don’t have android phones (28 percent), internet connections (32 percent) and any idea about the technicalities of online education (20 percent). According to 21 percent of parents, online education is not good for the eyes. In this situation, it is advisable to the government that, government should not hurry up in introducing online education instead look for other alternatives which are easily affordable by the Parents and Teachers and provide safety in the long run. One such alternative is to set up a Community Education Centre (39 percent of the Parents believe that this may prove beneficial for everyone in the long run).
- As an alternative to not opening the schools because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases, Parents believe that the Government should take steps to provide learning materials to the children at home (71 percent). In some cases, they also believe that teachers can take the responsibility of taking forward the process of learning and teaching through mobile phones (41 percent) and can help the children in solving their problems through calls (26 percent).
- Majority of the Teachers believe that in this pandemic situation children might have to face many social and psychological challenges such as fear/anxiety (78 percent), and depression (57 percent), etc. It is advisable to the government to run awareness programs and set up a helpline number in case some children need any type of psychological support to fight the pandemic.
- Majority of the Teachers believe that once the school reopens, Parents (57 per cent of the Teachers), Local Community (39 per cent of the Teachers), SDMC (71 per cent of the Teachers), NGO/Voluntary Organizations (15 percent of the Teachers), Gram Panchayat (54 per cent), and Department of Health has to play an important role in making the school a safe bubble for the children. It is advisable that the government should take initiatives to involve these stakeholders. One option is to bring all the stakeholders on one platform and have discussions on the standard operating procedures once the school reopens.
- Majority of the Teachers say that the Department of Education should increase the volume of funds under School Management Grants (81 per cent of the Teachers). Increased funds under School Management Grants will help in dealing with the basic infrastructural needs of the schools once they are going to open.
The major findings and recommendations of the study on the Perceptions of Students about the process of Teaching and Learning on TV Channel Chandana
- Majority of the students (90 percent) in the study responded that they are facing issues related to power outrage/electricity either sometimes or regularly. It is advisable that the Department of Education of the state should consult Department of Energy/Electricity Board and should take necessary steps so that students can continue their learning in this unprecedented time.
- At least 17 percent of the students in the study responded that they don’t have a television at their home. The department of education should take initiatives to reach such students. It can be done either by opening Community Education Centres or by providing workbooks to the children through post-office mediums or directly through school teachers.
- Approximately 91 percent of the students responded that if they are unable to watch the show on the Chandana channel they would consult their friends about the contents and methods of teaching. While this is encouraging that the instances of peer learning are very high but there is a specific need to increase the interaction of those children to the teachers. A toll-free helpline number might work in such situations.
- Students are unaware of repeated telecast of this programme. As much as 27 percent of students say that the programme will telecast twice during a day and 31 percent students don’t have any information about the repeated telecast of the programme. Through giving information about the telecast timings of this programme, the government can help the students to utilize the contents provided on the space to the full potential.
- As much as 63 percent of the students feels that the process of explanation by the teachers at the show is very fast and it makes the process of learning very difficult and boring. The facilitators should take cognizance of this issue and the speed of the teaching should be fixed in a proper band width.
- Total 35 percent of the students in the study say that the instructions are not clearly understandable and the 19 percent students state that it’s difficult to follow the explanations. The facilitators should make the process of learning more qualitative in nature and should involve the real-life examples during the teaching process. They should also keep in mind to keep the process of explanations easy.
- While the students are somewhat comfortable with the current arrangements as far as the process of teaching and learning is concerned but the department of education should step-up and take other initiatives such as opening Community Education Centre and randomly assigning teachers to their local areas to continue the conversations with the children.