EFSL Press Release #13: Let’s resolve to keep our children engaged in learning in 2022 | EFSL මාධ්ය ප්රකාශන #13: එළඹුනු 2022 වසරේ අපේ දරුවන් නොනවත්වා අධ්යාපනයේ රඳවා ගැනීමට අධිෂ්ඨානය කර ගනිමු.
January 1, 2022
Greetings for 2022 and thank you for staying with us during the last two years when the forum earnestly engaged in its core mission of catalyzing policy reforms in education.
The onset of the pandemic in March 2020 shaped our work. We carried out nineteen policy dialogues during that period and shared our findings through press releases. We looked at curricular reform, examinations, education funding, but the focus has been on keeping the school open during the pandemic. With the newest Omicron variant and the possibility of other variants, we are left in doubt about the future of the pandemic, but one thing is certain – we must keep our children engaged in learning and in-person to the extent possible.
In 2020 when the pandemic was new, schools were closed across all nations based on the presumption that contagion is more within school communities and that children in groups are ’super-spreaders’. New research emerging from many countries during 2021 has shown that both those presumptions were inaccurate and that schools don’t spread the virus any more than the community.
From the beginning, we stressed on the importance of vaccinations, lighter curricula, and decentralizing decision making. We are happy to see some progress in these aspects, but we are yet to see access to low-cost testing methods for detecting infections, ‘diagnostic testing’ for detecting learning gaps and remedial teaching accepted as a key to keeping schools open.
In 2022 we wish to pursue the topic of keeping the schools open further, ensuring 100% class enrolment instead of rotational attendance, and tracing and re-integrating dropouts back to school.
We will be guided by our action research on the pandemic as an impetus for authentic learning and hybrid learning as the modus operandi in the new normal, new survey data by LIRNEAsia on digital learning during Covid-19 in India and Sri Lanka, and international good practices. We look forward to collaborating with the Ministry of Education & allied agencies in this regard.
Please visit our website for a recap of some of the topics we covered during the last two years and stay tuned for our next policy dialogue on Keeping the Schools Open.
Again, thank you and greetings for a new year where we resolve to find creative ways of keeping our children engaged in learning despite the pandemic or other disaster that may befall.
Sujata Gamage and Tara de Mel