Updated: May 6
Q. How have your duties and responsibilities changed after the reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic?
School In-charge: In terms of my work, not a lot of my work has changed after the pandemic, and I still have to do almost everything I used to do earlier. As the in-charge, it is my duty to make sure all school activities run smoothly. The only change in my work now is to ask children to wear a mask while coming to school and provide masks to children if they do not have these.
Q. Has there been a change in student enrollment as well as attendance?
School In-charge: Enrollments have surely increased. During the pandemic, a campaign named ‘Namankan Pakhwada’ (Enrollment Fortnight) was started, through which all the migrant or unenrolled children were enrolled in the school. Due to this, enrollment increased in all of the schools.
Not enough children are, however, coming to schools as compared to the increased enrollments. There are many reasons for this: migrant workers have returned to work due to which their children have also moved, and those who are daily labourers have also started their work. There are many factors that have thus affected attendance.
Q. Since children have physically come to school after a long time, is there a difference in their learning levels? Are there remedial steps being taken?
School In-charge: I can see a difference. A child who could divide, multiply and do even more in mathematics, is now finding it difficult to do all this. A child who could read a story earlier is now facing trouble while trying to read. Their level has dropped.
This is the reason why we are running a ‘Catch-up Course’. Secondly, we are making an effort to identify students whose learning levels have dropped suddenly, and are making a group to try to raise their learning level back to its former level.
Q. How is the learning gap being filled for students who were not able to attend online classes before the reopening of schools?
School In-charge: Online classes were provided by the government via television but we should consider that we are envisioning online classes for those children who have an acute shortage of resources. When attendance in schools remains questionable, it is only a dream to think of children being able to attend online classes. For now, the children who were left out in the online class are getting their syllabus completed through catch-up courses.
Q. Have you received any instructions from the government on how classroom teaching must be done now?
School In-charge: After reopening, all schools received a letter from the district stating that the children should complete the syllabus in three months. This three-month teaching period has been named the ‘Catch-up Course'. We are working towards completing the children’s syllabus through this course. Apart from this, we haven’t received any other instruction regarding classroom teaching yet.
Q. Have you received any kind of teacher training to address these challenges?
School In-charge: I received an online training called NISHTHA (National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement). This training was aimed at providing quality education in Hindi, Mathematics, and Social Science.
Q. How is COVID-19 appropriate behaviour being taken care of in the school? Have you received any precautionary supplies like masks and sanitisers from the government?
School In-charge: We are in compliance with the COVID-19 protocol. All students and teachers are asked to wear masks in the school. We have not received any kind of supplies including masks and sanitisers from the government.
This interview was conducted with a Prabhari (School In-charge) of a school operating for Classes 1 to 8th in Gaya, Bihar in Hindi on 28 December 2021, and has been translated.
In January 2022, due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Bihar, schools were instructed to physically close for classes 1 to 8th once again.
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