Thursday, 13 August 2020

New Education Policy - Takeaways & Implications

In a landmark decision to reform the traditional face of education in the country, the Government of India through its Ministry of Education (formerly MHRD) has accepted and enforced the New Education Policy (NEP) for all educational institutions in the country. The policy has been designed by an expert committee of eminent educationists that submitted a draft to the government in December 2019. This newly applicable policy finds its basis in the idea of making education more accessible for all learners.

The new policy puts fourth radical changes across all spheres of education. Starting from foundational schooling to post professional and vocational education. Through the enactment of this policy, the government has made its revolutionized stance towards the internationalization of education very clear. Future generations stand to benefit a great deal from the changes presented in the policy that comes after a 34 year hiatus.

So what has really changed for schools?

The NEP 2020, takes the present system of learning and flips it on its head. There are visible changes across all delivery models and even talks about holistic development of the students and technical grooming of teachers that can empower young minds to become future leaders.

The schooling segment is perhaps one of the most influenced segments with monumental implications for future learners. Here’s why:

  • Formalized Early Childhood Care & Education with a national curriculum framework to be made available to all
  • Re-purposing school complexes as adult & vocational education centers during non-school hours for optimum utilization of resources
  • A redefined academic trajectory of students commencing with the foundational (3+2), preparatory (3 years), middle (3 years) and secondary (4 years) phases being the new face of schooling
  • State level exams across grades 3, 5 and 8th in addition to mandatory board exams as per the current regime
  • Centralized assessment centers will be established for Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic development of the children (PARAKH)
  • Reformed report cards consisting of peer reviews in addition to teacher feedback
  • Recruitment of local artists and craftsmen will promote regional arts in schools
  • Integration of vocational skills from grade 6 with practical experience to willing learners
  • No hard separation between streams of arts, science & commerce with greater flexibility being made available to the students
  • Special provisions for gifted children

There are a lot more indirect implications for schools mentioned within the policy over and above the aforementioned list. Schools have now been enabled to provide futuristic education with the use of technology in the classroom, however it has been observed that teachers are opposed to the idea of infusion of modern teaching techniques within the classroom. This also finds redressal in the policy which places a heavy emphasis on the investment in teacher education and their professional development. A rather staggering change is the change in mandated teacher qualification to a 4 year integrated B.Ed degree as opposed to 2 years at present. A special curriculum shall be designed for new teachers that will enable them to impart knowledge using modern teaching techniques and reformed pedagogies thereby enabling future learners to become competent for the real world.

And what about higher education?

Under the new policy, the government has categorically emphasized the importance of multidisciplinary education across the higher education segment. This renewed understanding represents the governmental push to make the economy more self-reliant and harness its own capabilities before seeking outsider assistance. In it’s endeavors to promote the entrepreneurial spirit, the government has made value-based education a new foundation to be imbibed within the course structure. In fact, there is also a reassessment of what courses should continue to exist in terms of availability of employment and what skills have now become irrelevant and should therefore be discontinued.

Specifically, the government has put forth both regulatory and operational changes in the higher education sphere, such as:

  • Institution of a single oversight body called Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) to govern all higher education institutions except those that specialize in the medical & legal niche
  • A unilateral set of governance norms for both public & private institutions
  • Creation of professional standards in accordance with global norms by Professional Standard Setting Bodies (PSSB) in place of the existing 17 professional councils
  • Creation of Multidisciplinary Education & Research Universities (MERU’s) with the aim to reach global status
  • All new institutions will be required to offer Open Distance Learning (ODL) and online programs once accredited
  • Multiple entry/exit options shall be available to students to leverage with undergraduate courses to be of 3-4 years including a year of research
  • The installation of high performing universities globally to set up centers in India will be encouraged
Alongside the changes mentioned above the policy also sets bold targets for the coming years such as increasing the GER in higher education including vocational learning to 50% by 2035 and increasing public investment in education to amount to 6% of GDP by the next decade.

What else is on the table?

In addition to the many visionary changes suggested by the policy, there are several small but significant revisions that the government plans to implement in due course. There is a strong inkling to promote the preservation and promotion of local arts, culture and language through education. Further, the infusion of technology in education has been stressed upon emphatically with the setting up of National Education Alliance for Technology (NEAT) and Artificial Intelligence enabled research centers across the nation. Adult education is yet another aspect that finds mention within the policy that posits creation of Adult Education Centers (AEC’s) through optimum utilization of school infrastructure for the same.

The policy clearly provides a framework of operation for new and old institutions and re-imagines the fate of education in the country in the coming years. It is indeed an advantageous for a nation to recognize education as a pivotal pillar in the success of its economy and it’s people. Seeking to expedite the implementation of these efforts, the government has already set aggressive timelines and is positioned to bring the entire policy into force by 2040. For a detailed understanding of the NEP and all it’s nuances, read through our monograph here.

The Zero Year Theory - Is it viable?

The current COVID-19 pandemic has hit the education system hard. All the schools and Higher Education Institutions in India have been shut since the first 21-day national lockdown from 25th March 2020 thus impacting over 253 million school going students and 37.5 million higher education students enrolled across India.

As the Coronavirus cases continue to increase in the country, looking at the current figures, it is inevitable that the coronavirus cases will increase in the coming days and health and safety of children are under question. Under such unprecedented circumstances demand is rising to call A.Y. 2020-21 as ‘Zero Academic Year’

‘Zero Academic Year’ means teaching and learning will happen to the extent possible by using various alternate instruction methods, but there will not be any examinations, grading or promotion to the next class.

A online survey conducted by Local Circles group with 25,000 respondents in India, found that a two third of respondents did not support reopening of schools on September 1 and were worried about the chances of infection to children and elders in the home.

International precedent also indicates that cases spread through schools, with the American Academy of Pediatrics reporting that almost one lakh children tested positive in the last two weeks of July, just as some schools began reopening classes.

Current Scenario of India’s school children:

Current educational situation of students varies widely, depending on age, location and socioeconomic status. Private schools have already gone online with teachers attempting to maintain a regular schedule. For Govt. schools, authorities have brought out an educational calendar with lesson plans and learning activities, and are also beaming classes through dedicated television channels in multiple languages, especially for older children. Government has also issued screen time guideline for pre-primary to Class 12th students. Given that this kind of distance education requires digital access and/or self-motivation and parental involvement, the vast majority of children in government schools have spent the last three months on an extended summer holiday.

Challenges in reopening of schools in India

  • No clear road map or timeline for school re-opening
  • No clear health protocol for maintaining Health and safety measures while reopening schools
  • Covering full academic curriculum lost due to school closures in remaining instructional days in academic year 2020-2021
  • Un-equal Access to online and remote learning: only 24% of families have internet facilities in urban area which drop to 15% in rural areas.

Is Zero Year Theory, way ahead?

Although the adoption of blended learning (online + class) for curriculum content delivery is key to ensure the continuity of education following the physical closure of schools, children on an average, likely to experience a learning loss during this COVID affected academic year.

Online schooling requires a change in both the quantity and quality of the teaching capacity & revision in the curriculum,Students spend less time in online learning compared to in-school learning time Younger children may have problems in adapting to this model especially for the online learning sectionThe structure of many existing school buildings may not be appropriate if one wants to maintain physical distancing.

Hence looking at challenges in reopening schools and content delivery mechanisms many activists, teachers associations, parent associations in Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have demanded to declare AY 2020 – 21 as Zero Academic Year.

Is there any academic loss when curriculum is reduced?

COVID-19 and blended mode of learning in schools may not affect students equally. Students from less advantaged backgrounds can experience more significant learning loss during this emergency period than their more advantaged counterparts. This may be due to differences in financial & non-financial parental support, digital access & students’ digital skills.

Loss reflected in reduction in test score students would be experiencing because of less time spent in learning compared to the amount of time they typically invest when they are in school, stressed environment because of changed delivery mechanism and lack of learning motivation

In broader perspective academic loss will translate into a reduction of available human capital, with negative effects on future productivity, innovation and employment including future lower earnings for the student cohorts directly affected by the lockdown

On the other hand declaring A.Y. 2020-21 a Zero Academic Year will ensure:

  • Reduced stress level of blended learning in students.
  • No Academic loss and in terms of curriculum and skills learnt
  • Safety of children from schools with inadequate infrastructure where social distancing might not be followed
  • It will also provide time to governments and schools to ensure teacher training on health & safety of students, digital access to all students, developing new pedagogies in blended learning and developing school infrastructure with better hygiene and health safety measures.
Health is Wealth and life has more value than anything else, thus it is more important to value children’s life and health over all other parameters. Protecting children from this dangerous pandemic is critical. Hence it will not be in common good to reopen schools in riskier environment. Zero Year Theory needs to be followed to mitigate academic loss of students if more than 33% curriculum reduction is needed to be able to reopen schools.

Enabling education for the masses through adoption of Ed-tech

The Indian education system is currently suffering from serious lacunae of teacher centered traditional schooling also known as ‘Factory model’ where in children are referred as products and where kids are treated as part of an assembly line, learning essentially the same things at an ‘average’ pace of the class without much personalization. This ‘Factory Model’ exists because it's the most economical or sustainable way to educate a large number of kids together with limited resources.

On the 2018 Legatum Prosperity Index, an annual study which evaluates 149 countries on several factors, India stands at the 104th spot in education. In India, the percentage of Class II students who could not read a single word of a short text or perform a two-digit subtraction is higher than in Uganda or Ghana. These facts indicates that India children at large scale lack in access to quality Education, educational resources and opportunities to learn beyond schooling.

Major Challenges in Education System in India

  • Lack of Infrastructure: Shortage of schools and classrooms with basic amenities like electricity, drinking water and toilets
  • Unavailability of quality teachers: Teachers are less qualified, lack professionalism and grappled with absent-ism
  • Shortage of quality study material: Shortage of study material leads to disinterest among students
  • Language issues: With 1500+ languages available, it is difficult to teach students in their respective languages with limited or no regional language content available 

Technology in Education (Ed-Tech) for large scale adoption

There is urgent need to implement technology enabled solutions and services that can redefine how education is imparted to students in lower strata of society in efficient format at all levels of education.

India is at the cusp of experiencing the growth curve in Ed-Tech & online learning the way the US or China had in the recent past. The current COVID-19 crisis has made use of Ed-tech more pertinent than ever.

 I. Going Digital:

 In online education, content delivery consists of text, audio and video to teach and elaborate on classroom subjects with experienced teachers. Thus fills-in knowledge gaps when teachers are absent or less educated with certain materials. These materials are also more streamlined, making topics easier to understand for a multitude of students. Video lessons make classes more consistent in all schools, eliminating the variation of teaching materials around the country and allowing student at large scale to learn in self-paced manner.

II. Specialized and Individual Learning through Massive Open Online Courses

Traditional schooling system is proven to be less effective at aiding students individually to learn core concepts; through the implementation of MOOC’s, schools will be better able to cater to students’ needs and adapt specific programs to better suit individual learning styles and educational requirement.

III. TV channel-based learning

Poor internet access in rural population is major challenge; with only 15% of families have internet facilities in rural areas. Thus making implementing online education difficult, hence makeshift technology uses such as TV channel based learning in regional languages in particular time slots. This can be crucial in providing instant access to learning content without onboarding.

IV. Open Schooling

Ed-tech can help in strengthening open schooling initiatives such as National Institute of Open Schooling with further to help curtailing School drop-out rates in senior secondary and higher education by creating Open Educational Resources (OER) across streams and allowing studnets to choose multiple subject of choice.

V. Resource-centric social network for educators

Rural area teachers have to be made at par in quality with their counterparts in urban areas, this is possible by developing Resource-centric social network for educators where teachers can interact and seamlessly share educational resources across states and country.

While a number of states in India have initiated Ed-Tech enabled programs to improve education levels, we believe Ed-tech start-ups companies would require extensive partnership with authorities to bring more technology into Indian classrooms for addressing current challenges.

Government should work towards providing digital access such as tablets, SD-Cards, Desktop computers and projectors to lower strata of society making Ed-tech educational programs more accessible to the multitudes. Many state-run schools have some access to these resources and Government needs to make consistent efforts towards providing EdTech for students in all regions.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Examinations Amidst A Pandemic - Are online exams an option?

The already struggling schooling industry, has recently been thrown another challenge of conducting safe and secure examinations for their students. Amidst the tussle, the industry opinion is split between parents increasingly leaning towards postponement of examinations and the authorities that are focused on creating a safe environment for their conduct. As a consequence, critical state sponsored examinations stand cancelled for the moment. While student safety is central to both stakeholders, it is also important to investigate the approach to examinations and their conduct as well as adapt to the latest trends and practices being employed in the assessment and examination vertical.

So what options are out there?

With greater amount of industries going digital and embracing the influx of technology, the assessment and examination community has also come of age. Online Examinations have emerged as a credible alternative to traditional pen and paper examinations that schools and educational institutions are adept to. While concepts like these are unheard of in the Indian ecosystem, there are ample examples internationally, of schools and universities leveraging technology and conducting safe and secure examinations using online solution providers. With the efficient use of state-of-the-art technology coupled with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, online examination portals have been able to overcome all malpractices and unethical behavior impacting exam integrity.

Why should schools opt for Online Examinations?

Online examinations are the natural progression for the schooling industry as they increasingly become aware of the benefits and effectiveness of bridging the digital divide. As schools have now become acquainted with the many benefits of online learning, it is only natural to look at other aspects of a child’s education that can be leveraged online. Moreover, schools stand to benefit from both proctored and un-proctored assessments that merge human oversight with AI based indicators that limit the possibilities of cheating, impersonation and other unethical actions.

Schools should see the advantages in opting for online examinations as under:

  • Cost Savings – When an online exam is conducted, there are direct implications on the costs of paper and stationery that are required to conduct exams the traditional way. The elimination of paper costs alone is extraordinary.
  • Time Management – Online examinations generally employ pre validation of the test taker to ensure that there is no impersonation or compromise of testing environment. This helps to overcome the lengthy formalities of the prevalent testing model and ensures that the test taker is able to maximize the utilization of his time. Moreover, as objective tests can be evaluated instantly it saves on the time of answer sheet evaluation and result declaration to a large extent
  • Security & Confidentiality – The traditional testing model requires creation and protection of question papers in a secure environment. In fact, many schools take extra care to ensure that their question papers do not leak into the hands of students. Online exams ensure that the test taker does not have access to the test unless authorized by the proctor. Systems in place can also ensure that the candidate does not have access to the internet or has limited access in order to maintain test integrity. Questions can even be randomized and presented as tests. This is why many schools have already adopted the practice of online examinations.
  • Flexibility & Accessibility – Online examinations make it possible for test takers to take an exam from the comfort of their homes. Some online service providers even allow test takers to schedule their examinations as per their availability. Schools can consider similar options for low stakes exams allowing their test takers to conduct examinations 24 x 7.

Administratively as well, online exams are a lot easier to conduct as compared to traditional tests. Schools are undivided on the toil and effort that goes into conducting examinations the present way. Online examinations enable a one stop solution for creating, conducting, evaluating and analyzing exams. Test results can be mapped to test takers along with their progression history to understand the developmental areas of the students and help them precisely.

What kind of examinations can be conducted?

Online examinations can be used to deliver all kinds of tests. Certain service providers also allow examiners to align learning outcomes to the tests that they choose to conduct. Such deep analysis is not possible with the traditional testing set up. Listed below are a few aspects of student development and supporting question types that can be tested via online exams:

It is relatively difficult to refute the many benefits of online examinations. Schools have an opportunity to ensure academic continuity for their students and rise above the ill effects of the pandemic. It is important for schools to recognize their infrastructural challenges and work around them to execute online assessment strategies that can help set the pace for all future assessments. Student’s should also be well prepared to be introduced to an online testing environment that is both safe and secure while being highly effective.

Teaching Online – The pedagogical shift all teachers must embrace.

The modern educator, in its true sense defines a skill that has come off age. Imparting education has become more an act of teaching the way learners want to learn rather than following a mechanical and archaic process. The approach to teaching or pedagogy has evolved into a more child centric, result oriented and skill driven. Educators in schools and other educational institutions are united on the idea of revamping the traditional approach to teaching and discovering modern and efficient ways of connecting with the students.

Teaching in today’s schools requires educators to be more welcoming of the use of technology beyond the basics. As educational institutions today, have gradually started to offer job-oriented learning, there is absolutely no doubt technology would be an essential enabler in the process. With the increasing demand for students in the country, there is a natural push towards shifting teaching and learning online in a manner that is both effective and innovative. It is a well-known fact that learners today can associate better with video lessons rather than text books. In fact, technologies can enable standard text book material to come to life thereby establishing an engaging contact with the learner.

What does teaching online entail?

Educators that can leverage technology today, can ensure that student learning continues with minimal hindrances. Contrary to popular belief, teaching online is simple, efficient and easy to learn. It takes a small amount of willingness to adapt to the teaching environment and get acquainted with the tools and platforms. Most of online teaching is extremely similar to classroom teaching. Teachers can do everything over learning platforms such as design curriculum, conduct assessments, allocate assignments and design progress reports for their students. Infrastructural requirements are fairly limited as all that is needed is a computer with a stable internet connection.

Why should educational institutions push for online teaching?

When employed efficiently, online teaching offers a load of benefits that enable education in a way that has never been possible before. The most noteworthy of these benefits being:

  • Online teaching renders geographies pointless. Since teaching online is managed by a system over the web, students can log in from their respective residences and do not need to travel to school to attend sessions. This opens the playing field to students beyond the immediate vicinity of the school’s location.
  • Online teaching makes asynchronous teaching possible. Present day teachers find it difficult to ensure that every student has understood a course or lesson. The commitment to provide individual attention to each student therefore remains unfulfilled. However, online teaching enables students to schedule one to one session with their teachers and allows teachers to do exactly the same, thereby ensuring that student queries are timely addressed and their learning continues.
  • Online teaching makes it easier to monitor student progress. Since learning platforms today offer the possibilities of associating learning outcomes with lesson plans, teachers are able to monitor in real time, which students are lagging behind and require personal attention. Analytical summaries are a great way for teachers to ensure that all their students excel academically.
  • Online teaching helps make monotonous lessons more engaging. Traditional teachers often struggle with certain topics that do not inspire student attention and focus as the rest. Subjects such as history, sociology etc. can be made more interesting with the use of videos, slides and other support material that are otherwise absent from a traditional classroom.

The prospect of hundreds of thousands of professors and students venturing into academic cyberspace for the first time has prompted some commentators to take to social media to predict that this period could alter the landscape future for online education. "Every academician shall be delivering education online. Every student shall be receiving education online. And the resistance to online education will move away as a practical matter," James N. Bradley, chief information officer at Texas's Trinity University, wrote in a LinkedIn post.

Online teaching has off late become the face for the educational industry at large. As a consequence, to the pandemic, schools across the world have shifted curriculum online and are enabling teachers to conduct live lesson delivery using video conferencing and education management software. Teachers are able to conduct sessions, address doubts and deliver high quality education across the globe. This is an exciting opportunity for the uninitiated to be exposed to the many benefits of online learning and understand its importance for the future.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Opening School's Amidst a Pandemic – 5 things all schools must ensure

As schools and educational institutions prepare to resume activities across the country, the scare of the pandemic worsens with each passing day. While governments have changed the narrative around the severity of the disease seeking public cooperation, school owners and operators must be mindful to strengthen their defense and develop strategies to mitigate, tackle and overcome the ill effects of the corona virus.

Schools need to understand that their eagerness to reopen should not result in nearsightedness. The rush to resume activities can lead to managerial oversight leading to drastic ramifications such as school closures and containment. Keeping the safety of all teachers, students and staff in mind, the schools must work towards creation of a detailed recommencement plan in line not only with the national regulations but also by understanding international best practices and guidelines issued by bodies such as UNESCO, WHO, IIEP etc.

Amidst the many attributes of schooling that must be evaluated by the management, here are 5 key areas that require the highest attention:

1.) Identify High Contact Zones

It is imperative for schools to seek out and identify areas in the school where students and staff come in close contact with each other. The best way of doing so is reviewing a student’s typical day in the school and identify likely common areas and interaction points where the student is widely exposed. Beginning from the classroom, cafeteria, auditoriums right down to water coolers and play grounds will need to be individually assessed in order to adhere to social distancing norms. In accordance with the respective state government regulations, schools must devise a student attendance strategy and supplement the same with cordoning off areas that require physical engagement and supervising the same to ensure that social distancing is strictly followed.

2.) Develop Sanitation Strategies

All school inventories must be properly sanitized at the end of each school day in order to make the school a hazard free environment. Regular cleaning and decontamination of guard rails, door handles, classroom benches, lab equipment etc. must be undertaken. School cleaning staffs must be provided with adequate PPE gear and should be allocated rotational shifts to continually clean lavatories, staff rooms, auditoriums etc. If the school provides transport, then all vehicles must properly be inspected and duly sanitized prior to student pickups as well as after drop offs.

3.) Revisit Academic Calendars

As schools choose to reopen, and activities resume, time is of the essence. Schools need to act fast and assertively to deal with the ill effects of the pandemic as well as address the need for completion of course content. All schools should actively look into their academic calendar and re-evaluate their options to achieve maximum course completion before the next academic session. Of course, the guidance of all affiliated boards is critical to this aspect, however schools should be well prepared to explore concepts such as accelerated learning and new age teaching in greater detail. Academic calendars must be condensed and optimized to achieve the maximum within the available time. Schools need to chalk off all non academic events and repurpose their time towards core education. This is the time when schools would need to make up for lost time and get back on their path to normalcy.

 4.) Embrace Technology

The school education industry at large has been one of the worst hit industries across the world. In India, schools scrambled to shift curriculum online in the wake of the pandemic. COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerabilities of the education system and it is important, now more than ever for schools to become more accepting of the use of technology within their pedagogies. In emergency situations like the corona outbreak, technology is perhaps an enabler and not a deterrent to education as schools still believe. Schools must invest in teacher education and infrastructural improvements in order to introduce technology and modern day teaching aids within the classroom and enable unperturbed education.

5.) Rapidly Evolve

Schools, like all other industries have now ventured into uncharted territory. While medical science makes quantum leaps everyday in seeking a cure to the pandemic, schools must have their eyes and ears open to any new information that comes to light. They must be able to adapt, improvise and overcome any situation down the line without an impact on student education. They must strategize in a manner that allows them the flexibility to swiftly factor in any new changes that emerge in the coming months. They must review at regular intervals and further refine elements that are not working for them. School management must enable all stakeholders including teachers, students and parents to be ready to transition with the school as it battles the consequences of the pandemic in its own unique way. Schools must also consult, communicate and coordinate with the right departments actively in order to be ahead of the curve if the situation worsens.

As schools slowly grapple with the idea of running an institution amidst a global pandemic, here are a few safeguards that they can consider as part of their recommencement strategy:

  • Installation of thermal scanners at school entrance to check body temperatures
  • Setting up sanitizing stations around the school with contact less alcohol based sanitizer distribution
  • Providing instant read thermometers to school infirmary and medical staff
  • Suspend all activities requiring presence of more than 20 students such as morning assembly, sports etc.
  • Keeping a mandatory safety kit in each classroom
  • Ensuring classroom seating is such that 1.5m distance is maintained between 2 consecutive students
  • Ensure sufficient signage and notices across the schools reminding everyone of the protocols at play  
  • Ensure individuals without masks are not permitted on the school premises

Using these as starting points, schools can build onwards to a robust and flexible strategy to efficiently reopen and resume activities. Schools can also seek out the right partnerships from leading organizations that are closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the sector and can shoulder the responsibility alongside the management to help them expedite their progress to normalcy.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

History & Trends of Online Learning & Screen Time

Online learning for young children in schools is an area that has received widespread acceptance and fair share of criticism. A close examination of facts, best practices and expert views reveals that online learning for all age groups is here to stay. Online learning is the only strategy that schools possess to ensure continuity in learning and personalized learning journey for each student. There is worldwide acceptance of the benefits of the online learning that further the cause of quality education however, the limitations of online learning must also be recognized. 

School educators, policy makers and regulators must focus on staying the course even under the pressure of outbreaks. Keeping student interests in mind, schools must ensure that learning continuity is maintained until full operations are resumed. Online learning techniques today have evolved substantially and can be channelized to assist with the student’s cognitive development as it is clear that learning consistency, routine and developmental learning window are important factors for children of young ages. In fact, leading schools across the world have employed the latest in online learning and designed systems that address the obvious reservations related to virtual environments and target even the social and emotional learning of their students.

Leading medical and child welfare organizations have now assumed a more supportive position of the idea of online learning. Organization such as WHO, UNESCO and IIEP have come out with new guidelines that provide an extensive framework on how to employ online learning techniques in an ethical and productive manner. The push for online education from local and global governments is substantial and is a clear indicator of the renewed understanding amongst leaders and reformers of the countries. It is clear that the common understanding now is that online learning can yield credible results provided it is administered and monitored in the right way with the help of systemic safeguards. 

Concerns around screen time have now been deliberated upon enough to prove that the quality screen time must be encouraged. While it is widely agreed that children must be allowed to engage in physical activities, it is also possible to ensure that young children do so with the help of online coaches or embedded bursts of free time. All stakeholders must approach the screen time issue from an objective viewpoint and differentiate active and passive screen usage. Experts have clearly mentioned that it is the passive, mindless and mechanical use of screen time on activities such as aimless social media browsing, binge watching and excessive gaming that inflict much more damage on young, developing minds than productive and cognitive activities such as investigative and experiential learning. Hence, rules, regulations or guidelines must consider the ‘good or bad screen usage time’ rather than ‘good or bad screen time’. 

Schools must now be more ready than ever to leverage online learning and ensure that students continue to grow and develop as they ought to. With no end to the pandemic in sight, online learning is the only way to render education to children of all ages. If the policy makers, regulators and schools can collaborate to share best practices and learn from each other around the globe, they can efficiently and swiftly cover the lost ground and provide high quality education to all students.

Eduvisors partnered with FICCI ARISE to develop a report containing insights with specific reference to systemic safeguards for all schools to consider: Available here.