Published: 26th June 2020
India needs to step away from test-based system and teach soft skills to make students ready for post-COVID world: Study
The unanimous response from all respondents was that the pandemic is likely to have a significant impact on our social fabric
A global survey by Evaldesign and Gutenberg, From Schooling to Learning, suggests that it is time for a paradigm shift in the education sector in a post-COVID world. While students have an issue with internet connectivity, not only in India but in the USA as well, they also said that that the option to engage with the world's best via webinars and online lectures has been enriching. Across the spectrum, the study stated, there is a "demand for increased interactivity, quicker and effective resolution of problems and integrated and well-organised platforms that could be a one-stop-shop for all their learning and teaching needs".
The study does not merely leave you with a bunch of data, it suggests a future scenario as well. "The unanimous response from all respondents in the expert category was that the pandemic is likely to have a significant impact on our social fabric and that the focus of education should be to provide for skills to rebuild our society. Inclusion, compassion, empathy, resilience, socio-emotional learning and grit were some of the highest-ranked priorities, followed by civic responsibility, preparedness, interpersonal relations and bridging the learning gap," stated the survey. "At the same time, experts predict that art, sports, citizenship, life skills and extracurricular activities that are hard to conduct online will likely take a backseat when schools do re-open as there will be a race to bridge the learning gap. This is a significant opportunity for us to think of what the goals of education should be, and reimagine learning. Distance learning is a trend that may be here to stay," it further suggested.
Flexible learning hours, personalised classes and online evaluations may be the future of education but what should be the basic changes we need to implement in our education system to make our students ready for the 'new normal'? "The fundamental focus should be on changing the purpose of education. Currently, we focus on just trying to get a job. We need to come out of this industrial era thinking box. We need to bring in a lot of life skills into the curriculum which has been mentioned in the report as well," said Akanksha Bapna, Founder and CEO of Evaldesign. "The next step is revising the content to fit the new goals of education. In the post-COVID era, we need to think of a blended learning mode rather than just analog. The role of a teacher will also change — they will need to become more of a facilitator for learning," she added.
Harjiv Singh, the Founder and CEO of Gutenberg, added that the method of learning should change and so should the way we evaluate a student. "We have an obsessiveness to test the students. Thus exams become important and we move away from the learning part of it. learning is a life long process and not just about a test. Various universities in US and UK do multiple things to evaluate students — there are paper submissions, participating in class and more which helps judge a student's knowledge base throughout the semester," said Harjiv and added that India needs to adopt a similar structure.
The report explores both the opportunities and challenges for education and suggested aspects one needs to keep in mind while forming a fresh policy, "Recommendations from experts and program designers point to future trends and the goals of education in a world affected by COVID-19." The survey received over 250 responses from 31 countries, collecting perspectives from students, parents, teachers, and experts.
The students themselves suggested what would possibly work better for them. “As there is a lot of burden on the internet if an app can be made for online classes without internet usage it will be very helpful,” said one of the respondents, while another said that it would be great if it were possible to ask and get the queries answered in realtime. A higher education student said, “[An integrated] platform which could host cases, research articles, web lectures, tutorials on various concepts etc. with both student and university access.”