As the world is learning to cope with the Pandemic, the world of Education has undoubtedly seen a drastic change. Online teaching has enabled students to connect with their teachers, without compromising their health. However, the Aided and Government schools of Kerala have many hurdles to cross.
While the CBSE and affluent private schools of Kerala use online educational tools and apps like Jamboard, Padlet, Canva, and the like, teachers of the Kerala State Board are still struggling to get all of their students on the online platform. Many of the students here, unlike most students in private schools, come from families that are financially backward. And for them, the only mode of access to online classes is through mobile phones. Most families have just one phone, that belongs to the head of the family, who has to take the phone along, while he goes to work. Therefore teachers have to take classes in the evenings when the parents are at home. Care has to be taken while setting the timetable, so that the online classes of siblings, do not clash, with just one phone in the household. Then there are students whose parents have lost their jobs during the Pandemic and have no means to recharge their phones. A few households have no phones, nor electricity. Some of the students have phones but very old ones, that are not in a proper working condition. And some have no internet connection nor Whatsapp. Most of the time, in a class of twenty-seven, only about twelve are able to attend online classes, due to various such reasons. The rains and the frequent power outages add to the misery.
Education, every since March 2020, has been digital. Students (except for the students in Std 10, who had regular classes for three months at school, followed by their final exams ) and teachers scraped through the whole academic year without seeing each other face to face. Without any training or much knowledge in the field, the teachers had to plunge headlong into online teaching. A new era in education had begun. This year again, the school reopened digitally, on TV, giving a warm welcome to the students. And later most schools sent short video clips made by teachers, to the class Whatsapp groups.
Online classes have started, mostly on Google Meet, though not in full swing. While teachers have connected with most of their students by phone, some students are still just numbers in the phone contacts, numbers that are not reachable. While desperate attempts are being made to collect spare phones for the students in need, some boisterous ones who are fortunate to have phones, have User IDs like ‘Devil X, Renox, Wolfe N, Kitkat and the like, making it all the more difficult for the teachers to recognize or identify them, while online.
Before the age of online classes, teachers would give commands like ‘Stop talking!’, Listen please!’ and ‘I will send you out of the class!’ to the disruptive students. Now the commands are mostly, ‘ Stop chatting, while I teach, Who are you messaging to? Unmute please! ‘You may leave the meet’ or I will not admit you to join the meet next time.”
But despite all the shortcomings, Kerala is still far ahead in the field of education, comparatively. The State Plus Two and SSLC exams were conducted offline, without many mishaps and valuation has begun.
The Kerala Government, supported by KITE has been conducting regular classes for all the State Board students through the Victers channel, making the teacher’s job easier. Measures are also in progress to help students who have no access to online classes.
Education in Kerala, during the Pandemic, has been and still is difficult and unsatisfactory as it is elsewhere. But with the proven, undying spirit of Kerala, it will go on, no matter what.
Annie Cyriac English Teacher Amrita High School Moolavattom
Compiled by Swetha Sukumar