The covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected the education sector since March 2020 developing the education crisis in Sri Lanka. Despite some brief intervals of activity, Sri Lankan schools have been essentially malfunctioning for almost 15 months since their initial closures.
The UNESCO Institute for Statistics estimates that by early November 2020, the world student population had lost between 41% and 68% of in-person schooling they would have received under usual circumstances. Students have been staying home and learning via online or TV programmes which tremendously changed the former teaching-learning methodology. This resulted in struggles in both the students, parents and even in the teachers. In response to the current school cancellations, the government is encouraging schools to continue and expand online programs that have been in effect since last year. This figure shows, less than 50% of students were reached online on average; further, it ranged from a low of 8% in the smallest schools – which are typically the least privileged – to 59% in the largest. The survey also denotes that the education via TV programmes is a better way to be reached in smaller schools. However, the efficiency of the program has been influenced by a lot of pedagogical and logistical issues. There are no links between televised programs and teachers’ lesson plans; a passive teaching style, lack of interaction with students, lack of students involvement and interest in learning; difficulty in the time management and duration of different subjects and TV channels; and poor communication of program information to schools, students, and parents, to name a few.
Anyhow some elite schools with better infrastructure facilities can be able to provide better education whereas less- privileged schools with limited infrastructure facilities cannot be able to afford this online learning charges. Not only the schooling students but also the university students are having difficulties in handling broadband/IT- connectivity issues and managing online platforms like zoom which disrupt their typical flow of learning. Some of the students are facing challenges mentally, physically and socially due to Covid education.
Online learning plays a major role in every child’s parent. When children are using online learning platforms, parents have the necessity to monitor their usage and access of their sources. They should monitor and help their children in learning and accessing the platforms. Sometimes there maybe two or more devices (either smartphone or laptop) where there are more than two children in a family. Just think a minute- when it comes that the both parents are having full- time jobs and working all the time during these challenging times, it is much more difficult for parents to assist their children in educational pursuits.
Online learning necessitates a shift in thinking not only among students and parents, but also among teachers. Teachers are the main functional system in managing children’s learning process. They should be more considerate with many different factors- availability of time, access and quality, student’s availability of sources (devices, internet connection) and space, and more importantly students’ mental and physical conditions. Teachers have to change from their passive teaching-learning process to sophisticated technological teaching methods. As a result, teachers and educational facilitators must go above and beyond in their delivery methods. Some teachers have done a better job of accepting the change than others. They’ve shown a willingness to learn about technology, adapt to it, and use it to better engage their kids.
To alleviate all these current education crisis and ensure that no one is left behind, immediate action is required. It is better to consider the re-opening of schools in rural covid-19 low risk areas where distance learning is neither accessible nor effective, and where student numbers are typically smaller, allowing for better adherence to health recommendations such as physical separation. This can helps to promote students’ learning process.
Allowing schools to make decisions in consultation with relevant school committees and regional education authorities, rather than blanket decisions made at the central level for all schools, is one way to do this. Such plans should also include long-term measures for keeping schools operational, backed up by regular, cost-effective assessment of both teachers and students, as well as vaccination of teachers as a priority group.
The frequent delays to school re-opening attempts highlight the necessity for a well-developed hybrid system for education delivery — a combination of in-person and remote choices – so that instructors and students may seamlessly transition to distance learning during an emergency. Even while schools are open, safety precautions would prevent all kids from attending school every day in densely packed schools, necessitating blended learning to maintain continuous learning. Recent research based on different country encounters shows that powerful cross breed learning can be offered in any setting, by recognizing the best mix of schooling modalities, learning material, and strategies for correspondence, in accordance with accessible assets, abilities, and innovation.
Whether we like it or not, we must adapt to this new regular existence. In that way, online learning will play a significant part in the ‘new normal,’ and all stakeholders in this ecosystem must be prepared to embrace change now and in the future.