Gangtok: COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted the education sector, and deprived young children of the right to have free and compulsory education. Keeping this in mind, Sikkim’s education department has decided to roll out home-schooling for elementary education of children from the age of 6 to 14. And, if schools reopened in the coming months, there are no plans for the schooling of students of elementary level.
Bhim Thatal, director (elementary education) and state project director (Samagra Shiksha), presented the concept of home-schooling for elementary education during the lockdown. “Article 21A of the Constitution guarantees free and compulsory elementary education for the children in the age group from 6 years to 14 years as Fundamental Right. Since the last two decades when the Sarva Shiksha Mission (now called Samagra Shiksha) has been initiated and since the RTE Act, 2009 has been enacted, the primary focus of Union as well as state governments has been to realize free and compulsory elementary education. Keeping these thoughts together and also in order to work out a system for enabling these elementary students to have their basic right of education protected and maintenance of learning continuum, we are looking forward to opting for home-schooling,” he said.
The concept of home-schooling would include elementary teachers visiting the homes of such students and teaching the students. “It would mean that if the child is not able to come to school, let the school go to the child. The students at home should have access to education through teachers, parents, school management committee members and such other stakeholders coming together and supporting education of the children at home,” he added.
Medium and resources like digital media, online classes, voluntary support from the youths and D EL Ed /B Ed students and various other means are required to be harnessed. Child centric learning and change of method to adapt with the needs of the students is required. Parenting component is also an important factor of home-schooling, it was mentioned.
“During the lockdown period, many private and unorganised schools are also closed and the students going to such schools are equally deprived. Hence, extending support to students of private schools also will be the role of the teachers of the government schools so that education as a welfare activity is realised,” said Thatal.
A proposal on home-schooling was submitted to the Government which was accepted and approved. Following guidelines in the form of circular are therefore issued by the Department on July 14 for the purpose of home-schooling in Sikkim during the lockdown period.
Home-schooling will cater to educational needs of students from Kindergarten to Class 8 as per the provisions of the Right of the Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. There will be three levels of approach for home-schooling (i) for KG (ii) for Classes I to V and (iii) for VI to VIII with different strategy to cater to their educational needs.
Surveying and mapping physical locations of students and teachers will be done by the Block and Cluster Resource Centre Coordinators (BRCCs & CRCCs) to locate students and teachers along with any other individual (D El Ed, B Ed, college students, educated youths) willing and capable to cater to the educational needs of our students. Heads of Institutions (HoIs) should formulate strategies and map challenges. The HoIs will monitor, help and support the teachers in making learning happen effectively.
Teachers will have the liberty to adopt innovative and possible medium of teaching and as far as practicable, personal attention will be provided to the primary learners. However, for the students of Classes 6 to 8, a combination of digital learning and personal attention will be adopted.
Pre-primary teachers, primary teachers, graduate teachers, BRCCs, CRCCs will be engaged for this purpose at different levels. All the stakeholders will take active part in the home-schooling process.
Methods like meeting at suitable place other than school, visiting homes of students or calling the students to the homes of teachers with abundant precaution against viral infection, maintaining social distancing and other COVID-19 protocol would be adopted.
Curriculum slash and prioritization of learning at different levels will be analysed by the teachers. Essentially important contents as expected for a child at a given grade would be incorporated in the remaining part of the academic curriculum in line with the revised NCERT calendar and with the support of the SCERT.