The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is bound to severely affect not only the economy but dynamics of the social sector also. The state government of Mizoram is responding to the current COVID-19 crisis by introducing certain interventions in some sectors. As the socio-economic profile of students studying not only in state run government schools but also in private schools and their limited access to other resources of learning beyond school, prolonged periods of lockdowns and an interrupted academic session will severely affect the learning outcomes of children. The current state-wide school shutdown presents the unprecedented challenge of keeping students meaningfully engaged in academic learning, while continuing to develop teacher capacity and proficiency, without running regular school operations. COVID-19 crisis also brought with it an opportunity for extensive use of ITbased platforms especially in the education sector for teachers, parents and above all students.
The School Education Department of Mizoram has proactively taken upon the task of ensuring that children do not lose out on any opportunity to learn and to continue their academic progress by providing access to tech-enabled learning sources as spelt out below:
To actively engage students and teachers in productive time investing activities during lockdown period, the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), Mizoram initiated a weekly Challenge starting from 13th April 2020 for Elementary and
Secondary school students and teachers of Mizoram. Instructions and submissions for different activities are shared using WhatsApp mobile application. The SCERT invited challenges for students on poster making, collage making, card making, letter writing, making best out of waste, drawings and paintings on themes like ‘Heal the World’, ‘Single Use Plastic’, ‘Thank you note to doctors and nurses and other task forces on Covid-19’, on Lockdown, Prevention from Covid-19, creation of picture characters from Mizo folktales and stories in their school textbooks and many more. Storytelling by studentsfrom their textbooks was also invited hoping to familiarize students with the contents of their textbooks. Some teachers have given the challenge items as assignments for their students which will further be used for assessment.
Even though academic session for 2020-21 has not started in Mizoram in the beginning of the first Lockdown, the SCERT took initiatives to engage students and teachers in informal education. Teachers were invited to participate in challenges like making videos on their innovative teaching practices, article writing on their memorable teaching experiences, short video clips on teaching of English vocabulary, development of video clip on fun way of teaching mathematics, video clip on reuse of waste materials and the like.
Poster making, collage making, drawing, card making, challenge on producing the best out of waste and story-telling.
Video clip on innovative practice in teaching, video clip on reduce/reuse/recycle, article writing, story-telling and fun way of teaching mathematics.
Tutorial classes on TV for Elementary and Secondary School students were introduced from 13th April, 2020 by the School Education Department, Mizoram. The programmes are broadcast on National channel, Doordarshan Aizawl Kendra at 3:05 pm and two other main local cable television networks, Zonet and LPS at 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm respectively, from Monday to Saturday. Different slot timings were selected in the channels to ensure maximum coverage.
The Directorate of SCERT and Directorate of School Education collaboratively developed video clips for these tutorial classes. Teachers are engaged to deliver these classes through TV and the contents of these videos are targeted at students from Class 1 to 10. Contents include all subjects of study as well as life skills for students, teachers and parents during these trying times. Contents for Higher Secondary section is also planned to be developed.
Videos of tutorial classes are uploaded in the official YouTube channel of SCERT ‘Directorate of SCERT’, School Education Department, to ensure availability of these teaching materials whenever needed. The channels have registered more than 12000 subscribers and viewers of the content increases every day. The SCERT Mizoram Facebook page also has more than 24000 followers and the online activities of the department are shared in this page.
The SCERT Mizoram offers B.Ed (Special Education) course since 2017 with 120 students at present. Several sessions of zoom classes are being conducted on the course papers apart from sharing of study materials through WhatsApp groups. Assignments are also given to students and submission of students’ works is also done through the app.
The much anticipated 6-month Diploma on Early Childhood Education (ECE)course for in-service teachers which was due to be launched in the month of March was initiated online on 1st May, 2020. Teachers who have enrolled for the Course are given an online pre-test to determine their level of knowledge in ECE. This pre-test is a very important factor in identifying the needs of teachers in terms of the content and delivery system for the Course as it could not be conducted on a face to face mode. Faculty from SCERT and DIETs are engaged to deliver learning for the course.
Faculty members share study materials on the papers assigned to them through a dedicated WhatsApp group created for the course. Assignments have been given out and completed works are being submitted to the faculty members through the app.
The current pandemic situation has disabled all forms of personal meetings between the Districts at DIETs and the State at the SCERT. To solve the problem of academic and administrative meetings with principals and Faculty members of DIETs across the state, the Director of SCERT resorted to video meetings through Zoom application. Meetings are often held for review of Annual Work Plan for 2020-21, Review of PAB Appraisal Notes and on Academic progress by the DIETs.
Faculty of different DIETs continue to impart education to their students through the use of internet to ensure that their courses are efficiently being conducted. Tutorial classes are held using Zoom app on a regular basis, sharing of lectures on topics pertinent to their courses are being shared in WhatsApp groups and live discussions are held at regular intervals. However, poor internet connectivity in the rural areas hinders learning to a great extent. It may also be mentioned that many of DIET buildings and hostels are being used as community quarantine centres for the time being, some faculty members of DIETs are assigned to take care of these centres.
SCERT, Mizoram has conducted several workshops to create high quality e-contentsfor QR Codes of Elementary school textbooks.
SCERT faculty and teachers have been trained to develop contents on the workspace of DIKSHA App. More than 100 contents have been created for Mizo and Hindi Elementary Textbooks.