Updated: Aug 14, 2020
Q: Were you involved in any pandemic-related tasks? If yes, are they now over or have they changed? If changed, what COVID related tasks are you expected to do now?
Block Education Officer: We were involved in COVID-19 related tasks. I was the Nodal Officer. The work is not over yet. There is also a programme called ‘Safe Saturday’ where children are taught ways to cope with calamities like floods.
Complete lockdown is enforced in Bihar again. We are the officers of the Block-level. We are assigned duties whenever the District Magistrate wants. So we have to be prepared always, there are no 'ifs' and 'buts'.
Q: Did you regularly go to school during the period of April to June?
BEO: Schools were closed and many were converted into quarantine centres. We were involved in monitoring among other things.
Q: What instructions have you been receiving from the authorities regarding Mid-Day Meals (MDM), and food distribution for students?
BEO: Instead of Mid-Day Meals, a sum of money is being provided. We have not received instructions regarding ration yet but there is conversation about getting rice from the dealer and distributing it among parents.
However, the teachers’ union is opposing this because it would be difficult to bring all the parents together in pandemic times. Hence, the government should give money instead of ration under MDM.
Q: What is your assessment of teaching and learning during the last couple of months? How will this impact the academic year?
BEO: The impact is adverse. Children are not studying at all, and only some who have television and mobile phones are able to watch programmes.
Q: Have you made ICT tools available to teachers so that they can reach out to students? What are these?
BEO: There is no such tool. The government has also not provided anything. Online education is not possible for every household. Education via Doordarshan is not an option for every family.
We are waiting for schools to reopen.
Q. Is there any initiative so far to enroll children of returnee migrants? If so, what is the procedure for the same?
BEO: A drive is going on from 1-31 July wherein teachers are visiting households and enrolling children of migrants who are above the age of 6 years.
This interview was conducted with a Block Education Officer in Supaul, Bihar in Hindi on 15 July 2020, and has been translated.