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USchool’s ‘Disrupted Education – Bridging the Gap’`

Disrupted Education – Bridging the Gap | Latest Course from USchool |

After the lockdown was enforced in March 2020, for nine-year-old Sara, the physical distancing and confinement to home had given rise to unprecedented stress and new adjustments. She, along with countless other children, had to grapple with new perils of online education, loss of interest in learning, distractions, job loss of parents, anxiety, depression, suicide, violence and abuse.

Cut to 2022, the pandemic has receded, and physical schooling has begun, creating a new crop of stressors in the life of children concerning academic, physical, social, emotional and mental states of being.  No matter what socio-economic strata they belong to, children are the future workforce of the country. A country’s economic muscle is directly tied to the professional success of its children and as such, their needs unequivocally demand urgent and sustained attention.

Returning to the physical classroom post-pandemic after a gap of two years has taken on a new meaning for the children. It has also redefined the roles of parents and educators making them the primary facilitators to help children overcome their problems. 

More about USchool’s Course: Disrupted Education – Bridging the Gap

USchool is a leading online learning platform for self-development. USchool understands that the current situation has caused among the students, teachers and parents. So, we have taken a lead in building a unique online course addressing topical pain points, which is impacting over 1 billion children globally.

Disrupted Education – Bridging the Gap (DEB) course aims to assist not just parents but educators and schools to help children cope with the fallouts of interrupted learning and take informed actions toward their physical, mental and emotional well-being. This self-paced course is designed to answer all queries in the minds of the concerned stakeholders. USchool, along with our course facilitator, Lamia Bagasrawala, delivers a specialised online training course to tackle the consequences of disrupted education caused more recently by the pandemic, at other times by festivals, elections, floods, smog, and hartals over regular intervals.

The course facilitator, Lamia Bagasrawala, is a psychotherapist, education facilitator, researcher as well as a published author on mental health in adolescents, schools, and communities. Lamia comes with immense wisdom and experience gathered from her association with reputed institutes like Jai Hind College, TATA Institute of Social Studies, the Azim Premji Foundation, TARSHIs, Menstrupedia and The Swaddle.

Reopening schools has necessitated a fine balance of students’ physical, mental, and emotional needs and their safety amid a crafty, shape-shifting amoeba-like pandemic.

Key findings around Disrupted Education

A study by the Azim Premji University in January 2021 of over 16,000 children across five States in Classes II to VI found that 92% of children had lost at least one specific language ability from the previous year, and 82% had lost at least one mathematical ability. Schools, parents and the children now face the humongous task of making up for lost learning through offline classes by focusing on the retrieval and sustenance of interest and motivation. This has created stress-induced anxiety amongst children and parents.

The Standing Committee report declares that over 70% of India has weak or no access to the internet, turning the spotlight on the massive digital divide between the urban and rural parts of the country. With the majority of India being rural, one can only imagine the plight of students struggling with shared or no devices and sketchy internet, the two basic tenets of online education. Learning losses of an unprecedented scale have affected the students, pushing them back at least three to five months in academics.

Disrupted Education led to issues among kids

  1. Peer interaction and social anxiety – While peer interaction and approval are crucial for a child’s development, the last two years of online classes have created a distance between the child and her peers as well as teachers leading to mental and emotional issues. While the child is excited at the prospect of returning to school, he is undoubtedly also experiencing social anxiety, fear and depression.
    The younger children experience separation and social anxiety as they have relatively less in-school experience. They have to re-learn to make friends and have conversations. The older students experience a certain level of unease at the prospect of meeting their old classmates after a two-year gap; whether they would be as pally as they were before the pandemic or would they have drifted into new cliques. Acceptance and self-image issues have created nervous tension in their minds.
  2. Disrupted routines – The simple routines that structured their life beautifully pre-pandemic now seem to have taken on monster shapes. The sheer act of waking up early, getting ready, study time, eating time, etc are tasks that are now done grudgingly and evoke a nerve-wracking tussle for both the child and the parent alike.
  3. Reduced focus – During online classes, it was hard to bring the focus of all students to the concepts being taught due to the absence of a real classroom. Even after the opening of schools, children are encountering trouble focusing for long hours at school. This is a consequence of extreme screen time in the earlier years, switching screens in between the classes and social media and chat addiction.
  4. Growth and developmental issues – Pre-schoolers are experiencing speech delays due to the absence of peer interaction. With online learning having allowed a limited interface, they have not been able to learn the concepts of sharing, caring, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.
  5. Learning Loss – Many children have forgotten the concepts that they studied before the schools closed. This has been observed more among children from poor socioeconomic backgrounds due to lack of access to digital classes. However, even among the students attending online classes, learning loss has been observed. The students are struggling with writing, sentence formation, spelling etc.
  6. Health and diet issues – Inactivity and overeating of ‘feel-good’ junk food have led to obesity and the likelihood of early onset of lifestyle diseases in children. Through physical evaluations done at schools at the start of the session, many students are being found to be lagging with their minimum fitness levels. The catch-up in terms of physical growth milestones is a herculean task.

One cannot forget the fact that death knocked on almost every door during the second phase of the pandemic. Many of these children have had experiences of sexual abuse, molestation and violence within their homes or through the internet, which has further exacerbated all the above issues. Resistance to expressing their feelings due to shame and fear of judgement has created huge roadblocks in their minds that thwart any possibility of movement towards normalcy.

Bridging the gap caused by disrupted education and routines

While one can still catch up on academics, what is harder is recovering social skills that render a positive emotional and mental space for the children.

The sheer increase in the number of children, parents, teachers and caregivers opting for therapy or counselling has made mental health the most critical issue in the post-pandemic phase.

Dealing with all of these issues might seem like a climb on Mount Everest. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of problems faced by children, parents and schools.  Certainly, children are too inexperienced and vulnerable to be able to see themselves through these issues, which if left unattended can blow up into enormous proportions. The time to act is NOW. The children need well-informed guidance from parents and teachers who can take corrective measures based on the child’s age and maturity level. 

USchool’s Latest Course: Disrupted Education – Bridging the Gap

It is a short 8-Module program, which provides easy answers to cousellors, parents and teachers to handhold children in this phase of their lives.

Watch USchool video: Disrupted Education – Bridging the Gap

DEB, (Disrupted Education – Bridging the Gap) The course by USchool aims to provide tailored solutions which can go a long way in calibrating the student’s mental, emotional, and physical capabilities. DEB believes in approaching the problem in two ways- going deeper and going wider, to understand and deliver a comprehensive perspective to parents, teachers and caregivers regarding the task at hand.

In this online course, DEB discusses, among others, the following pertinent topics and their solutions:

  • Alert and aware parenting
  • Self-care of children and parents: Physical, Emotional and Mental
  • Listening to listen
  • Parenting as collaboration
  • Adjusting to offline school
  • Anxiety in children
  • Dealing with death and loss.

USchool provides non-traditional opportunities for self-development through its courses, bringing forth field experts to make learning practical and fulfilling. The course content is broken down into simpler manageable modules for better grasping and implementation. USchool is a doorway that allows access to learning to create a better YOU, and therefore, a better US – as a community and a society as a whole-for a brighter, more positive future.

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