With the schools reopening, education cannot be treated like ‘business as usual’. Teachers want the learning gaps to be addressed first before starting with the curriculum, reveals a survey by Azim Premji Foundation called ‘Open Schools, Focus on Recovering Lost Learning: Clear Voice of Teachers’.
According to the survey, almost all (96%) of teachers surveyed want children to be assessed on abilities from the previous classes when schools reopen. Around 56% of teachers favoured assessment of children from the primary classes on foundational abilities in language and mathematics, as opposed to class-specific abilities in different subjects.
Teachers (96%) also said that the curriculum across classes needs to be changed to accommodate the reality of the loss of learning. In the revised curriculum teachers (61%) want to emphasise foundational literacy and numeracy in the daily timetable, as per the survey.
According to the report, “74% of the teachers favoured a reduction in the curricular load and the need to map foundational abilities onto the curriculum so as to focus only on such abilities that they recognised to have been most affected.” Teachers have emphasised that this year focus should be on enhancing foundational abilities.
Teachers reveal that children have forgotten what they knew earlier due to a disconnect from learning during school closure. The learning loss include basic mathematics and language skills. This was also revealed in an earlier report by the foundation which said, 92% of children, on average, have lost foundational ability in langauge and 82% lost basic mathematics abilities.
As schools are reopening across the country, teachers want the curricullum to focus on foundational learnings including those learnt in previous years. A teacher from Uttarakhand said, “We have to focus on basic concepts such as addition, subtraction, etc. to enable children to pursue studies in the current class they have been promoted to. We can extend the academic year and give extra hours to recover what has been lost in the past 18-20 months.’
The findings also reveal that teachers recognise that there would be different levels of learning loss among their students, which they would need to cater to when schools reopen.
More than half (56%) of teachers wanted the initial teaching-learning stages to focus only on abilities lost by the children with an emphasis on remedial teaching to aid recovery of learning loss
“The need for pedagogical changes to cater to the diversity of learning levels in the classroom was endorsed by 57% of the teachers,” said the study.
Further, 57% felt changes in teaching-learning processes would be needed. As many as 48% of the teachers felt the need for diverse teaching-learning materials to cater to students’ needs, as per the study.
Need to focus on social-emotional learning
It is not just a loss of academics but social-emotional learning, believe teachers as per the survey. A vast majority (70%) of the teachers believed that most children would need attention with respect to socio-emotional issues.
The teachers have observed “children may suffer from lack of self-esteem and confidence about their learning abilities since many of them may return to school after having been part of the workforce and having experienced changes in family circumstances like loss of parental income, loss of loved ones to COVID-19 among other reasons.
Of the teachers surveyed, “71% felt that specific activities and processes to make students comfortable in the initial days of schooling would go a long way to address socio-emotional concerns,” said the study. About “53% also underlined the importance of counselling”.
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