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COVID-19 Impact in Schools

Now, we all have had an experience of the world brought nearly to a halt as an effect of COVID-19. Almost all the countries in the world are directly affected by this pandemic situation. Most of the countries were in the state of Lockdown to reduce the rapid spread of COVID-19 among its citizens. Nepal without being an exception initiated the first phase of lockdown from 18th March 2020. Everything from then took a pause, So, the Schools too.

The educational fiscal year in Nepal starts from Mid-April and completes at the end of March. As the initiation of lockdown was nearly towards the end of the educational fiscal year, the first few weeks were like a break for the students. And the students enjoyed their breaks.  It was a great pleasure for them to spend their time without following any rules and regulations. Freedom of joys, no classes, no study, no homework and nothing but to relax and spend time with family and playing. Most of the children stayed in their homes watching television, playing indoor games, and sleeping.

But the extension of lockdown and halt of school operations are bringing an unpleasant situation for the students for their education. People started getting bored and unproductive staying at home. Getting back to old memories, looking at old photographs, calling old friends, busy on the internet were some of the time killers for all as they could not meet anyone physically. When all these options were done then people started to brainstorm to have them involved in productive works such as gardening, painting, sketching, writing poems, cooking new dishes, or doing the passionate work of one’s interest. One of the positive aspects of lockdown is that it gave time to identify the ability of the individual and collect the strength against COVID-19.

One of the most affected sectors due to this lockdown is the educational system. However, the Nepal Government declared to open the schools from 1st September 2020. But, the increasing spread of COVID-19 cases at the community level and inability to control the spread has increased the doubt to open the schools in the community. Nepal Government also planned to organize virtual/online classes to continue the education. But one of the most challenging is the transition from physical interaction to digital mediums of education, as not all schools have the ability and are equipped to provide distance learning. Many families in rural areas also do not have access to the internet as well as electronic devices for their children to conduct online/virtual education. As a result, it is near to impossible to conduct distance learning in a full-fledged manner.

Activities through utilizing different mediums like radio classes, virtual classes through TV’s, etc are also in consideration and operation. But the real scenario is very different in rural areas as the majority of parents are unable to afford TV in their houses. As a result maximum students were deprived of getting the right education.

In this scenario, we had a discussion with the teachers of the schools where the READ Child project is being implemented. Though the school is in a complete shutdown, the teachers are engaged with the children at a community level. While having a conversation with the Principal of Banaspati School Mr. Man Singh Ghalan says, “The primary students just started to learn how to enjoy reading and writing but this long gap made the children forget their learning. Hence, we are worried that there might be children drop out when the session begins. Hence, we are mobilizing our teachers at the community level to organize small programs to get the children engaged with the teachers. Hope this will sustain the interest of children to continue their learning experience.” 

Similarly, the primary teacher Ms. Anita Ghalan took the initiation to visit the students who are nearby weekly. She meets them revised the text and gives them homework too. It’s really nice to hear that students are in touch with her even during the lockdown. Further, she says, “I am able to create special bond with the students, and meeting them in small groups 3 to 4 in numbers made me know them better. I sing, play and dance with them. They love to draw and color and I appreciate their works.”

This is very satisfying to see and hear where the students are always put in the priority by some of the passionate teachers. When such individuals are present in society the pandemic could not last long. Hope the school reopens soon and the small children get renovated classrooms and new learning toys and plaything.

We would like to request you to subscribe and follow our blog post to receive more updates about our project and activities. We would like to acknowledge our donor Moving Mountains e.V. for supporting us to implement this project in the ECD of rural areas of Nepal. We look forward to receiving your comments and feedback on our program and activities.

With Many Thanks from NEW Initiative Team.