Students have forgotten foundational skills or not picked up basic concepts in core subjects
Shrihitha K.N., a class X student of a private school in the city, says she has been unable to understand concepts in mathematics and science despite attending offline classes for a few months. This, she says, is because she did not understand the basics in classes VIII and IX, when all the classes were largely online.
Though schools reopened in a phased manner from August this year, students have been unable to grasp lessons taught in the offline classes as they have forgotten basic foundational skills or have not picked up the basic concepts in many core subjects. Shrihitha says she and her friends are extremely tensed as they have to appear for the board examination in March 2022.
Most students have not had year-end examinations for the past two academic years as the exams were cancelled due to the pandemic. Some private school students, however, had online examinations this March.
The State Government, in 2021, cancelled the second year pre-university examination and had conducted a multiple-choice examination for class X students. However, they had promoted all freshers of classes X and II PU.
Many experts pointed out that the pandemic was an opportunity for State Governments to break away from focussing on assessments and wanted them to focus on teaching-learning. However, most governments, including the Karnataka Government, have failed to chalk out a concrete academic plan during the pandemic, they say.
Schemes like Vidyagama, where teachers went to their student’s neighbourhood to teach, had to be discontinued to protect the “health interest” of the students in mind.
B.S. Rishikesh, faculty at the Azim Premji University, said it has been a “learning tragedy” the past two academic years and only teachers can find out who escaped the tragedy. “We should ask teachers to assess students within her classroom. A teacher needs to know what is the spread of students in her classroom and can lead a classroom-based assessment,” he said.
He added that students are not in a position to appear for a summative assessment and the focus the coming year needs to be on “education recovery.”
“Merely conducting bridge courses is not an option and there is a need for reimagination of how students can learn, which most States are unwilling to do. Proper planning to ensure that students need to reach the grade-appropriate level by March 2023 should be the goal,” he said.
D. Shashi Kumar, General Secretary, Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools, said this academic year, students’ learning and assessments revealed that they were not on a par with their grade-appropriate level.
According to school managements, the performance of the students has shown that there is a vast digital divide among students. Students who had access to gadgets and internet connectivity performed much better than their counterparts who did not have access to them.
Many government schools in fact did not even conduct online classes as a majority of their students did not have access to a gadget to login to their classes. While many of them were given worksheets and assignments, they were unable to learn as in many families the students belonged to were first-generation learners and could not bank on support from their parents.
B.R. Supreeth, Secretary, Oxford Institutions, Nagharbhavi, said there was a huge digital divide, particularly in rural areas, which was making it difficult for students to cope with their lessons.
Keeping this in mind, Niranjanaradhya V.P., educationist said this academic year, there was a need for assessment at the school level so that teachers can evaluate the duration of the bridge course for the 2022-23 academic year.
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