Situation seems to be getting better : Sanjeev Gupta
"Why not become the leaders rather than becoming the followers?" Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, on the shift towards the new normal in education.
In conversation with Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, the Managing Director of DE INDIAN PUBLIC SCHOOL, ROHINI,NEW DELHI. Here are the highlights and his thoughts over the challenges, struggles, benefits, and successes of running a school during the covid-19 pandemic.An Interview taken by Minu Jyotsna , Reporter, EduAdvice.
How did you handle the challenges that came with Covid-19 lockdown and the shutdown of schools, specifically the shift towards online education?
Firstly, there was a lot of uncertainty and everyone had their share of apprehensions regarding the lockdown and the continuation of education via online mode. The teachers had to be trained, the parents had their doubts and the children needed a lot of guidance specifically the pre-school children who needed the support of their parents or guardian to operate the online systems. But we took the plunge with the intention that why wait, in the coming days the whole of India would shift to the online mode of education, so why not be the leaders rather than becoming the followers. This was in early February and since then we coordinated with the Teachers, the parents, the administration and achieved success. We made use of a program called 'swa- adhyan' by 'Forever Books' for this transition. And by March when the whole of India went into lockdown we were ready for the situation.
Since schools are reopening how are you preparing for the safety of the students? And will the education of students who are choosing to stay at home be at a disadvantage?
We are fully prepared to welcome back the students and the current scenario of fewer covid-19 cases in the city and the vaccine drive being undertaken by the government has bolstered our confidence for better days ahead. We have been in touch with the students and their parents and 70% to 80% of students have responded positively towards this decision. We are constantly counseling the parents and are up to date on the safety measures according to the government directives. For now, the government has directed that the students choosing to stay at home will not be penalized for their attendance and we have taken all care for all the necessary requirements to keep the student in touch with his/her syllabus even if they won't be able to come to school. Currently, we are only calling them for counseling of practical examinations but we are all set to welcome them for regular schooling.
What are your views on the government directives to charge only tuition fees until the situation improves?
By asking this question you have hit the nerve of the management. Initially, we faced difficulties specifically as the tuition fees is only 50% of the whole fee structure. Many schools have multiple extra-curricular heads and then there are the development charges and the government barred us from collecting that. There was the issue of pendency over the tuition fees as well as many parents were not able to pay the fees on time due to the pandemic. Thus, we faced issues over payment of our staff. But the situation was such that everyone needed support be it parents, staff or teachers. The parents also realized that tomorrow when the time comes the management will support us. So we went into survival mode and compromised and worked together so that the development of the child is not hampered. We provided them with everything we could and didn't compromise on their overall development. Finally, by god's grace, the situation seems to be getting better and with the vaccination drive happening we are positive that we will be able to come out of this situation soon.
How are you taking care of the holistic development of the children as the pandemic has forced them to stay inside and lose on the experience of extra-curricular activities and physical activities?
This is a very important question and it is very imperative that the child receives a holistic development and is not left behind due to the pandemic. So we decided organized cultural events online and took our students on virtual tours of different cities of India, we organized expositions, debates, and discussions as well. We also motivated them via online platforms to do activities like yoga. The parents were a part of these activities as well as they became motivators and supporters at home. So all in all it was a great experience for all of us to continue the learning process online by working together.
What do you think about the NEP? Will it change the education system for the better?
According to me, NEP is yet to come as it will take many years for implementation. Right now the biggest challenge that we face is of bringing the child back to school, thus we should move step by step as evidently the pandemic has derailed the development of the education sector but we are hopeful for the future. The new education policy whenever it will be implemented will be very good for the coming generation as it will make the child independent with policies like vocational training, and it will lead to independent thinking and a rise in creativity as the child will have various options and subjects to choose from. Of course, there is the issue of clarity regarding how it will be implemented but whenever that happens it will be for the better.
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