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UAE: Hybrid learning to continue in Indian schools

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on March 31, 2021
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India’s CBSE-affiliated schools’ to start new academic session on April 4.

Uncertainty looms large whether the new academic session that starts on April 4 for India’s Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)-affiliated schools will see greater footfall on campus owing to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.

Several polls conducted by institutions indicate that parents’ confidence to send their wards has visibly increased, albeit, on paper.

Schools continue to encourage parents to send their wards for on-campus learning reiterating that onsite teaching has tangible advantages that cannot be undermined.

But despite the aggressive vaccination drive, many parents argue that as children are still not eligible to take the Covid-19 jab, face-to-face learning is still a deterrent.

However, teachers exuded optimism about the upcoming academic session.

Deepika Thapar-Singh, chief executive officer (CEO)-Principal of Credence High School, said, “Prior to the opening of the school we have taken a survey/registration to understand the choice of mode of learning for each child. We’re happy to share that more than 50 per cent of children will come for face-to-face learning. which is a huge jump from the previous session.”

Sangita Chima, Principal, Amity School Dubai, echoed Thapar-Singh. “An astounding 65 per cent of Amity School Dubai pupils will enjoy a joyous ride to school this coming Sunday. Many will be coming to school for the first time after an entire year. We’ve increased the number of school buses in our fleet and stringent safety mechanisms are in place.”

But many school authorities shared mixed responses in the surveys, as several parents are in favour of remote learning because of the raging contagion.

Punit MK Vasu, CEO, The Indian High Group of Schools, said, “Since the numbers of Covid-19 positive cases have risen, many parents and pupils are concerned about the viral outbreak. However, we’re open to whatever our parents choose. We’re confident that irrespective of whether we’ve more students learning from campus or home, we’ll ensure that learning must be persistent and all-encompassing. We let the parents choose what they feel is best for their child. The school values their choice and is prepared on all fronts to handle both distance and face-to-face learning efficiently.”

Schools are also encouraging pupils, aged 16 and above, to get vaccinated in a bid to ensure those in senior Grades could opt for on-campus learning.

Mohammad Ali Kottakkulam, Principal, Gulf Indian High School Dubai, said, “The school had conducted surveys to consolidate the parental option of blended learning in the first term of the new academic year. Though the percentage of those who are expressing interest in blended learning has gone up, most parents still have opted for distance learning. The vaccination drive has boosted the confidence of people regarding adult safety, but the confidence levels of parents about the safety of their children will need a further shot in the arm.”

New academic session amid remote learning

Many parents are opting for onsite learning in the new session. The decision appeared to be predicated on compelling circumstances.

Roji Ravi, a parent of two school-going children, said, “My daughter, who is in Grade 4, will be going to school after a year this coming Sunday. We had kept her at home to ensure her safety, as both me and my wife were working from home. Now that we’re going back to work, we’re compelled to send her back to school for face-to-face learning. Also, the vaccination drive is instilling a sense of safety in parents.”

The new academic session is also a reinforcement of the new normal, as distance learning appears to be here to stay for the next few months.

Ami Rasheed, a mother of two children, said, “School staff has been vaccinated, but children are yet to be administered the jab. The viral curve is yet to flatten. Under the prevailing circumstance, I’m not quite confident about face-to-face learning yet.”

Anuradha Chakravarti’s daughter, 16, has been administered the jab. She weighed in on the raging debate, whether her daughter should attend school. “My daughter has been vaccinated, but the majority of her classmates have not been administered the jab. Many parents are still undecided whether to send their wards to school. I’m unwilling to risk my daughter’s life. Distance learning is flavour of the new academic session,” she added.





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