Fri. Jun 14th, 2024
MD Bayazid Khan

To reduce the morbidity and slow the spread of COVID-19 most governments were compelled to temporarily close educational institutions around the world as preventive measures. This is because reviewing evidence from previous outbreaks of infectious diseases has shown that transmission of an outbreak may be delayed by closing educational institutions. Suspension of face-to-face teaching at primary/elementary and secondary schools has led to concerns about consequences for students’ learning. Schools closure in South Asian and African countries bring massive loss to students’ learning as well as discrimination to ensure inclusive learning.

Considering virtual platforms for learning as a critical lifeline for education during the pandemic, educational institutions of the above-mentioned countries began conducting classes via video-telephony such as Google Meet and Zoom. Because of the non-availability of Internet facilities to all parts of the country and lacking digital devices for students of poor families, most governments also introduced remote learning through television, radio, mobile phones etc to keep students in the learning process. Considering the massive number of students who don’t have digital device facilities, the government of Bangladesh has taken offline initiatives for ensuring their learning too. Initiatives like submission of assignments by parents/guardians at the second tier and supplying uniform lesson plan wise worksheets to students by visiting homes or suitable places convenient to neighbourhood students by teachers at the primary tier etc are instances of government contribution to continue learning among students during the pandemic. Despite taking online and offline initiatives, governments of the above-mentioned countries failed to ensure inclusive learning because of the majority of students’ absence to access to virtual platforms or digital devices for utilizing provided alternatives sources for learning.

The learning loss due to the pandemic is indisputable. Learning losses cause forgetting what students had learnt earlier and losing foundational abilities such as reading with understanding and performing four basic operations in mathematics, which are the basis of further learning. Students will be pushed towards more complex learning abilities of the new class with the losses. As undergone learning losses because of school closure can never be compensated fully, therefore post-pandemic education in South Asia and Africa demands the following initiatives to be considered enabling students to recover lost learning that may be useful for next class learning.

Students with poor reading skills and lacking performing four basic operations in mathematics may be identified. Remedial measures might be taken to regain lost reading skills and foundational abilities in mathematics assigning class wise teachers for support.

At the outset of imparting teaching in the classroom, teachers need to review subject wise previous class contents that have linkage to present contents. Regards to ensure this class time and contact hour must be increased.

“Home and Neighbourhood Schooling” may be introduced to recover forgotten previous class learning, strengthen reading skills, support to prepare school lessons etc where parents/relatives and volunteer teachers (Retired teachers, Local High School/College students) respectively act as facilitators/instructors. A teacher may bring Home & Neighbourhood Schooling activities of a particular area under supervision.

Broadcasting of lessons on Television and Radio/Mobile Phone Radio might be continued to keep the provision of utilizing alternative sources of learning to mitigate the losses due to COVID-19. 

The outbreak of the COVID-19 like pandemic may not be a one-time infectious disaster as the world community has bitter experiences of facing the immense effect of these types of outbreaks in the past. As the overall development of a country mostly depends on educated and skilled workforces, therefore South Asian and African countries pivotally require keeping future generations in the learning process fighting against COVID like disasters. Therefore, schools should have the practices of conducting online classes for every grade once in a week by using Google Meet/virtual platforms confirming preparation to mitigate learning losses combating against the pandemics. Regarding this, initiatives might be taken so that all students may have digital devices for ensuring access to online learning. In addition, parents may be encouraged to use smartphone/digital devices ensuring the lowest price of digital devices only for them as well as governments may consider providing smart mobile phones/Tab to students of poor families. Moreover, initiatives may be taken so that speedy Internet facilities may become available to schools and adjacent areas. 

Last but not the least, teachers should have commitment and ownership to make the initiatives of compensating learning losses a success by motivating learners and parents to contribute sincerely as well as giving extra efforts by themselves. 

By Md Bayazid Khan - Bangladesh

The writer works for primary education in Bangladesh.

2 thoughts on “The crying need for post-pandemic education”
  1. Welcome Sir,
    A rich article to mitigate the lackings of students school learning in COVID-19 pandemic. I think if we, the people of all walks of life do the same from their individual situations the loss of absence form school learning will mostly be reduced . Thanks a lot to you for presenting multiple advises through this column. We will try utmost to do our best for the students of primary level.
    With gratitude,

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