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Priya Gopal, the educator, expressed,” The loss of a year.”

The Covid-19 has hit the world in ways no one ever imagined. Everyone is at home, companies have moved online, the lines of home space and workspace are diminishing.

By Priya Gopal

The Covid-19 has hit the world in ways no one ever imagined. Everyone is at home, companies have moved online, the lines of home space and workspace are diminishing. The education field stands equally impacted by the pandemic. Priya Gopal, an educator with 25 years of experience in teaching and curriculum development, had a detailed conversation with Prittle Prattle News.

Schools, colleges and educational institutes found themselves unprepared for it and are scrambling to find ways to keep themselves afloat online. They are experimenting with new methods and trying to use technology to reach the students.

In all this, a question that is always popping up from all parents’ sections is how soon educational organizations will be fully functional. ”When is the board going to decide the exam dates? What about the competitive exams? What about regular schools? When will they teach, and when will,l they do the assessments? When will preschools be fully functional? My child will lose one full year! Who will compensate?”

My child will lose one full year! Who will compensate?

When you hear a parent saying this, it gets me wondering? One full year, what do they mean? Being an educator associated with the school sector, I have always wondered about the pressure parents, schools, and children have put on themselves about losing a year.

Does one lose a year of one’s life by not being part of an organizational setup? Or does one lose a year by giving a competitive exam a year later?

Education in India was highly skill-based until the British took over and converted our self-sufficient model into something that would develop educated clerks to run their offices. The present model of schools has time and again come under severe criticism by many educational thinkers. Many teachers try to break the rigid models within school systems and help children blossom into wholesome adults.

This problem of losing a full year finds resonance with parents of all age groups of students. From young parents whose children are just two or three years of age and are looking for admission into the playschools to parents of students appearing for the board exams to parents of students who have prepared for competitive exams to final university year, graduates are asking the same question.

It only brings about the total dependency of the human community on institutional education systems.

How did the concept of even losing a year come into the picture?

Education systems offer academic programs that are age-dependent. From 18 months to 24 years, we systematically divide the applications into groups where children of the same age group learn together. The most popular common factor in a classroom is age. Thus we broadly have classified our education programs into six main groups: Pre Primary, Primary, Middle School, Senior School, Senior Secondary, and College. Our systems demand an entry age into each category. They also require a stepwise movement from one grade to the other within these classifications. We have been going on for decades with this system. Hence parents and institutions themselves are not able to break the patterns. Till a few years ago, schools used to ”demote” or ”fail” a student in a particular grade. It used to happen because the student was not able to cope with the curriculum. The student would repeat the year. While the intention was to help the student learn before he went ahead, there came to be associated with a sense of shame of not completing the task on time. This shame turned into social ridicule and pressure. Students began taking their lives when they realized that they were unable to pass a particular class.

With the RTE in place, thankfully, this has gone away. Students are now to admit into the age-appropriate class irrespective of their past credentials. It brings us to the main question. Is education necessarily age-dependent, and more importantly, is it the way laid down by the Boards of examinations or the National Councils of Education?

While research has shown us that the human brain is highly capable of learning, everything needs not is staggered into an inherently age-dependent program. Theories of Multiple Intelligences and Growth mindset show us that there are not just varied learning; there is no age limit to learning. Learning happens if the person participating in the process is interested in it and has the will to do the same. Every person can learn through life. Time outside an organizational set up doesn’t mean a loss of one year. It’s time we opened up to new avenues of learning. There is learning everywhere. So many universities have opened up courses online. Skill-based sessions are available. Time and again, all the things we ever wanted to learn but complained of lack of time; well, this is the time to do it.

The world has enough and more to offer. If one wants to learn, there are opportunities galore. Many people take a gap year between courses to hone their skills. The issue is more with the spoon-feeding that institutions have been doing to their customers (parents and students) that make people unwilling to look beyond them. We are a society that has indoctrinated to think that life works linearly. Life only ages linearly. It grows in all directions. While organized education will always be essential and will play a substantial role in people’s lives, learning never stops. It meanders, jumps, and finds a new route. Knowledge is like flowing water. It will find its way or else create its way ahead. It is up to the learner to harness a river or let it go stagnant.

No human being can lose a year in his or her life. The time that spent in a year is 365 days of experience. It cannot will out of life. A year is 365 days of new learning. A year is 365 days of creating unique experiences and savoring them. A year is 365 days of interacting with people, learning from them, looking online and learning new technology or courses, participating in the arts and being creative, looking far beyond the rainbow, and the vessel of gold at its end. A year is never lost. A Pandemic strikes and systemic events delayed; there is just that; delay. No loss! Concludes Ms. Priya Gopal to the reporter of Prittle Prattle News

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