Wednesday, 5 October, 2022

Transforming Education to Alleviate Learning Deficiency

Md Bayazid Khan

Transforming Education to Alleviate Learning Deficiency
Md Bayazid Khan

Education transformation demonstrates how the system of learning can evolve rapidly to meet students' diverse needs effectively alongside enabling them to keep in the lifelong learning process. Today's world is not like a bed of roses. People are to face a variety of natural and manmade calamities nowadays. Children are not an exception to combat the disasters and as a result they suffer massively regarding disruption to learning. On the other hand, tomorrow's competitive and the most demanding labour markets crucially need skilled technologically and vocationally sound young workforces. As technological and digital development happens frequently and rapidly, therefore keeping young workforces in lifelong learning is indispensable to make them adaptable to the changed technology.

Transforming education focuses on disruption free learning that induces learners staying with the lifelong learning process and developing skills for life & survival. So, transformation in basic education must emphasize on the following issues to be considered.

♦              Ensure disaster friendly or climate resilience infrastructure facilities at schools with smooth and hazard-free access to schools during or after disasters happen

♦              Provide logistic, technological, infrastructural and all sorts of digitization facilities to ensure offline and online sources of teaching with a view to keeping students in the teaching-learning process all the year round.

♦               Developing teachers and students capable of using digital or technology based teaching-learning methods during Covid-like pandemic.

♦               Developing disaster friendly curriculum so that students may learn and effectively use adaptation measures during or after disasters, climate-smart farming in agriculture, cope with the learning process combating disasters etc.

♦              Developing equal or inclusive learning mitigation strategies and ensuring its implementation capacities with availability of resources so that mitigation measures can start immediately after the disasters.

♦               Introducing livelihood education to primary education curriculum. There may be the contents such as family living, elementary agriculture, industrial arts, entrepreneurship, Basic ICT and occupations & professions.

♦               Last but not least, inclusive foundational learning of literacy and numeracy skills must be ensured by any means with a view to keep students in lifelong learning process.

The world is facing a global "learning catastrophe" as the way of education or learning of millions of children was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 70% of 10 year-olds in low- and middle- income countries are unable to read and understand a simple text, according to a report published by the World Bank, Unicef, UNESCO, USAID, FCDO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Although those poor performances aren't entirely covid generated as this rate was 57% before the pandemic but the pandemic-like disaster undoubtedly has deepened the learning crisis because of prolonged school closure, poor and non-inclusive initiatives for continuing education, unequal mitigation strategies and poor condition of household income. The biggest impact on learning happened due to the pandemic in low- and middle- income countries of South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa. These countries are also the victims of frequent natural calamities every year. So, learning losses of hundreds to thousands of young learners of lower socioeconomic backgrounds and the disadvantaged outlying groups are mounting in those countries because of the adverse effect of natural and manmade disasters every year.

Continuation of disruption free teaching-learning activities at schools and attaining inclusive functional learning in literacy & numeracy must be ensured among learners. Therefore, transformation in elementary education is inevitable and introduction and implementation of transforming education recognized the areas to be emphasized on:

Schools should be well prepared and equipped for continuation of teaching-learning activities all the year round without any shutdown due to the pandemic or natural calamities. Schools must have flood/tidal surge, cyclone/tornado and earthquake resilient multistoried buildings with adequate facilities for using shelter centers too. Schools should have facilities for using both online and offline sources in teaching. There should be the opportunity of practicing both the teaching methods on a regular basis. Moreover, students or parents need to provide digital devices (if necessary) for online sources to be used. During disasters there may be the provision of introducing community or home based learning facilities rapidly under the facilitation of volunteers (local college or secondary school students, ex. teachers, parents or guardians etc) and with the supervision of concerned school teachers in the non-tech areas of school catchment. Introduction of community based radio for learning and dedicated TV channel for education may keep students in learning during the disasters or even helpful to them to strengthen their learning all the year round.

Students need to know their responsibilities as good citizens to protect them and family members with cattles as well as "dos and don’ts" before, during and after disasters happen. Moreover, they need to learn the ways of taking adaptable measures during or after the disasters to protect them and their belongings as natural calamities cannot be resisted. So, the primary education curriculum should incorporate natural calamities concerning adaptable measures. In addition, the curriculum should also have learning opportunities in climate-smart and disaster friendly cultivation, farming, afforestation etc.

Livelihood education must be introduced to the primary tier of education to build a skilled technologically and vocationally sound young workforce meeting future competitive labor markets demand. In the last two grades of the primary education cycle, home based tasks (HBT) might be given to learners as doable assignment or attachment such as support parents to household activities or family occupations/professions, rearing up babies and old members of the family, gardening, making homemade food etc with a view to developing values and attitude of becoming respectful to people and professions or occupations. This may also be the encouragement to learners to choose technical and vocational education in the next stages of education.

Last but not least, the government, school authorities and the teachers need to focus on ensuring inclusiveness in attaining functional learning of literacy and numeracy skills. To ensure this, the following elements are to be achieved rapidly.

♦              Identifying children with dropped out and poor attendance at schools should support them to return and to stay in schools. Back-to-school campaigns with bringing families under social security networks, launching school feeding programs, removing all kinds of school fees &  providing books free of charge like Bangladesh and providing school uniform and learning materials free of cost must encourage children to come, stay and give attention to school and classroom activities regularly.

♦               Learning losses must be mitigated immediately after the disasters and commencement of learning recovery programs inevitably require identification of concerned children. Measuring children's current learning levels in reading & understanding of texts in Bengali and English along with learning levels in basic numeracy skills by applying formative assessment tools may identify children with supportive measures to be needed. They need support in and outside schools. In the classroom teachers should pay additional attention to them or if possible they must be supported by extra teachers. Before starting each and every lesson in the classroom, a few minutes must be spent by the teachers on teaching and doing practice to identified children in developing reading & basic numeracy skills engaging other children with a class work. Capable parents or guardians may be asked to support them at home and those who are first generation learners or don't have a learning friendly atmosphere at home, the government may think of launching a "Before or after school learning program" by motivating NGOs. Learning recovery efforts should focus only on literacy and numeracy becoming teachers free from excessive burden.

♦               To emphasize on children's learning and enabling school systems exclusively for adopting effective teaching-learning practices, teachers and schools must be debarred from non-academic and non-schooling activities or programs.


The writer works for primary education in Bangladesh.

Email: [email protected]