TODAY -

Learning during lockdown and post lockdown in Manipur

Dr N Somorendro *

 Lighthouse School, Kangpokpi ( A screengrab from YouTube Channel)
Lighthouse School, Kangpokpi ( A screengrab from YouTube Channel)



Globally the first priority of every country is to fight against coronavirus and COVID-19 to save the human lives. The websites of World Health Organization (WHO) and governments are the most reliable sources of information on COVID-19.

A report of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) indicates that the closures of educational institutions by 191 countries are impacting 91 % of the student population due to COVID-19 pandemic. The examinations are postponed across the countries.

The unprecedented educational crisis leading to deprivation of learning is felt more among the poor, marginalized groups and those who do not have excess to internet and other basic facilities. Manipur is also witnessing the global trend on education due to COVID -19.

The non-traditional learning methods and basic support system for e-learning sources, online etc are either absent or not functioning properly in Manipur. Even the best educational institutes do not have properly functioning websites.

Use of ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) facilities is very limited. Present challenge is huge in Manipur and loss in learning activities will be very difficult to compensate. As a cultural practice the homes in Manipur do not have separate reading rooms either for the teachers or students. Those have such facilities are certainly few.

The most popular form of learning during lockdown in Manipur is through What's App groups created by the teachers and students. Such minimum facility is not developed /practiced by the many teachers and students in the schools and colleges. Some have used google classroom, zoom online etc.

The critical issues remain how learning during closure of educational institutions through whatís apps, e-mail, online etc will reach to the most deprived sections and in remote areas including in the hills of Manipur?

It is encouraging that many teachers including seniors in the schools, colleges and universities are learning/using internet, computers/laptops, typing etc to educate the students. Learning during lockdowns in any form requires self-motivation by the teachers and need to inspire the students to join the classes.

Manipur wide online learning or other common platform of all the students for all the classes through TV channels etc is need of the hour.

The focuses on traditional methods of learning and absence or lack of non-traditional methods of learning right from schools to universities before the COVID-19 have proved to be a great loss to the students. Some serious efforts including policy measures both on short term and long term basis are worth discussing and should be taken up.

UGC and MHRD which govern and regulate education in India from time to time have issued Orders/guidelines to continue learning by using different methods including online and e-resources. It is reported that UGC panels have recommended academic sessions from September, 2020 and online examinations wherever possible.

Final decision is yet to be announced by UGC which will depend on the COVID-19 situation in the country.

The Education Departments both schools and higher education in Manipur have issued Orders/guidelines for learning during the lockdown for the schools, colleges and universities. On 16th April, 2020 the Honíble Education Minister of Manipur launched e-textbooks from class 8-10 of BOSESM which are available at bosemebook.in. The rest will follow for other classes.

The process of recording has started for online classes for the students of the schools under the Directorate of Schools. The process to declare examinations for class X and XII has started.

The roles of the parents or the other family members are really important during the closures of educational institutions. Those who donít have facility of internet/mobile, self-learning by the students must be encouraged. Since there is no teacher around, care and encouragement by the family members are really crucial.

This can help to reduce stress to the students and normalise during stay home policy. It will help to improve the mental health of the students. Such activities at home can help once learning activity starts. Online counselling both for mental and learning/examinations related stress will be really useful. States like Nagaland has introduced such facility.

As a short term policy measure, the examinations without learning cannot be a real education. There is no substitute for traditional classroom learning. Lack of learning facilities to a vast number of students in states like Manipur is a reality.

Therefore the governments and universities/boards can postpone the examinations schedules and allow resuming some classes once lockdown is over. Manipur Cabinet decision to promote the Class XI students is a welcome step. However more efforts are required in the colleges and universities as effective learning to most students is a serious challenge even before lockdown in Manipur.

As the long term policy measure, first there is the need to start online learning/courses and other non-traditional methods of learning in Manipur. It will require adoption of a policy with some budget allocation and an agency to develop and monitor the online and other non-traditional learning methods/courses.

This is a necessity as the syllabus and examinations patterns of every Board and University are different. This attempt still can be worked out during the closure of the educational institutions in Manipur. The strengthening and supporting the available means including whatís apps, e-mail etc are should be continued.

The second is to introduce in Manipur new TV channel/s exclusively for news, information and education to provide a common platform/opportunity to all the students for online/non-traditional methods of learning/courses.

The third is necessity to collaborate and work together in some form or other with the local TV Channels, AIR as well as Community Radio Stations in the learning process. The above measures and innovations may generate interests and excitement among the students including who are left out in the learning despite enrolled in the schools, colleges and universities.

The general public can also be benefited specially those courses/classes for the colleges and universities. Learning is universally accepted as lifelong process, not merely for marks and degrees.

There is no substitute to traditional classroom learning. The above discussion and suggestions can supplement the traditional method of learning after the defeat of COVID-19. During normal time, education particularly learning has to be taken up more seriously by the parents, teachers, society, political parties, leaders and government leadership in Manipur.

Use of modern technologies and non-traditional forms of learning including online method/courses should be introduced. In the field of education specially effective learning, Manipur should not wait for a Central scheme including on online/non-traditional learning method/courses.


* Dr N Somorendro wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The author is the General Secretary of FEGOCTA.
This article was webcasted on April 30 2020.



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