ISLAMABAD-Re-opening of schools during novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country may not imply resumption of pre-closure education activities in institutions and policy makers need to revisit the learning journey of students, said a study report released said on Saturday.

Tabadlab released a report this week covering the impact of COVID-19 on education and made recommendations regarding re-opening of educational institutions.   Report said that school reopening may not imply resumption of pre-closure education activities. The pandemic requires policy makers, teachers and school owners to fundamentally revisit the learning journey of students, and to identify critical interactions between teachers, students and peers.

It also said that physical distancing imposes restrictions on how different types of interactions need to be structured to enable co-curricular and extracurricular activities, while containment protocols and implementation measures will redefine the role of in learning pathways for students.

The report also said that schools may no longer be the home for learning through in-person interactions between teachers and peers and will potentially be repurposed to serve as a catalyst for self-directed learning.

It said, “schools may not be a daily fixed-hour routine for millions till a vaccination programme for COVID-19 is implemented – multiple education calendars away. Some grades/age-groups might not be able to get back to schools due to risks and associated safety guidelines, infrastructure/facilities limitations will add further strain on resumption of schooling.”

The study report also said that school reopening will require reskilled teachers trained to offer instruction via blended/distance models, systems for student and teacher supervision and coaching over distance with intermittent in-person follow-up, processes to create and disseminate learning materials, collect student work, review, and provide feedback, agreement on learning outcomes, new assessments and evaluations, content and support for physical and, mental wellbeing, and quick response/correction mechanisms to report and fix system failures.

It said that teachers will need to play a critical role in stimulating and driving self-directed learning using distance and digital tools. 

It recommended improving engagement with students, families and communities to identify at-risk groups and avoid drop-outs through timely remediation (especially for girls and students with disabilities), prioritising minimising learning loss through prompt interventions and re-orienting in and out-of school blended activities.

The report recommended to re-skill and support teachers to offer distance based student instruction and tracking support focus on behaviour change engagement for parents and families to sustain learning at home.

The report further said that Pakistan’s current learning crisis will be further exacerbated following further losses from school closures and inequitable access to distance education opportunities.

According to the report, estimated learning loss ranges from 1-2 years of schooling (varies with subject and grade). At-risk students can drop-out if education does not continue, potential new enrolments may not take place in the wake of income pressure that households have been subjected to during COVID-19.