Interactions with parents of children who go to government schools show that they are keen to ensure their children do well in life. A part of it seems to be a feeling that ‘my children should do better than me’. Towards this end, parents try to help their children in many ways.

We asked our guests of EI Dialogues on the post-pandemic opportunities in education, and advice on how to make it happen.

Saransh Vaswani, Saajha

The situation that arose out of the school closures pushed schools to connect with families and parents. Post-pandemic efforts need to build and transform these connections with families and parents. There is an urgent need to provide families with the required support to ensure that they can work with their children. We need to build the required support infrastructure such as learning material that engages family members, support helplines for parents, and provide teachers with resources to work with parents and communities.  We also need to recognise that support often goes beyond academics and towards the holistic development of the child. This might include support on food and nutrition, health services, and others required for the effective development of children. Learning cannot happen in silos. If there is one thing we have learned from all the work we have done so far is to listen closely to what families and parents are saying. Listening closely to stakeholders, children, parents, and teachers can help design supportive systems.

Watch the EI Dialogues video of Saransh Vaswani, to know more about the role of School Management Committees and their role in creating a learning environment: https://youtu.be/6h20_Qslg68

Gouri Gupta and Ashish Dhawan, Central Square Foundation

A major positive shift in the post-pandemic world has been the increased engagement of parents with their children’s learning at homes. The recent ASER survey validated this trend with over ~75% of students surveyed receiving learning support at homes. With household penetration of smartphones rapidly increasing from 36.5% to 61.8% over the past 2 years (ASER 2020), we have an unprecedented opportunity to deliver high-quality learning directly in the hands of the learner. As the adverse impact of prolonged school closures may spill over to the coming academic year, it is important to leverage this opportunity to institute a permanent link between the school and household to facilitate continuous learning for students. In this context, government and private schools should establish blended learning programs following curriculum-aligned digital content packages to supplement classroom instruction. Teachers may need to play a pivotal role in facilitating the overall program, to maintain regular communication with parents and to ensure continuity in learning across schools and homes. States may also consider innovative programs for providing device access to students with appropriate incentives targeted towards learning.

Watch EI Dialogues with Ashish Dhawan to know more about the role of evidence and its link to philanthropic investing as we move into the next year and address the effects of prolonged schools closures: https://youtu.be/fwqvsy1c0e0

 Prachi Windlass, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation

COVID-19 had pushed India into an unprecedented lockdown, which created a sudden need for students and teachers to quickly pivot to online learning. Teachers, parents, and children were forced to adapt to a new way of imparting and absorbing education and governments and organizations came together to enable a system of online schooling that would cushion the impact of the pandemic on learning outcomes. States like Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh that were already working towards school transformation, swiftly directed their teachers to form WhatsApp groups to help parents and students transition to a #GharPeSchool model, with daily calendars mapped to student learning competencies and guidelines for structured 1:1 weekly phone interaction between teachers and students. Parents from low-income backgrounds showed increased involvement in their children’s education, directly connected with teachers, in a way they had never done before. Himachal Pradesh is a fitting example of this, where 90% of the parent base (700K parents) in the state attended the first e-PTM (parent-teacher meeting) organized.

As schools reopen, we will need to continue with the digital momentum and further strengthen the teach-parent connect. We also need to think of finding ways to children having access to devices, that enable learning when learning from home or practising their lessons. Integrating ‘social-emotional learning’ (SEL) in education will be critical to ensure the mental wellbeing of children and their holistic development. Only the collective effort of governments, social enterprises, teachers and parents will ensure a better future for our children.

Watch EI Dialogues with Prachi Windlass to know more about what does it take to take interventions to the last mile, and examples of organisations that have been able to do so effectively: https://youtu.be/2cDz9i0wzBY

We learned some insights on parent’s purchase of education while visiting the homes in Delhi’s urban slums and asking for a monthly subscription to Mindspark Centres. We found that parents’ desire for a better education manifests in multiple ways beyond schools through private tuitions and special classes (especially for English and computers). The biggest demand drivers are helping with school homework and getting more marks in school tests. It was really difficult to explain adaptive learning since the school tests tends to be at grade level and rote-based. We also struggled to communicate what the child has learned in simple language and the connection of that to their lives. Convincing parents about ideas and issues such as reading for understanding using materials like labels, bills, etc., or daily transactions in the market could have positive consequences on how children learn.

 Footnote:

These write-ups are sent to us by our guests on EI Dialogues. EI Dialogues is a video series centred around initiating and furthering dialogues around impacting development in education at scale. EI Dialogues attempts to synthesize perspectives around education reforms, technology for social impact and systemic transformation by speaking to individuals from varied roles working to improve education in India.

All episodes can be found on www.youtube.com/eivideos and Spotify, Apple, and Google Podcasts.

Pranav Kothari

Pranav Kothari

Pranav Kothari heads the Large Scale Assessments and Mindspark Centres divisions at Educational Initiatives. This includes all the work with Governments, Foundations and Corporate CSR in the domain of learning level assessments, interventions and advisory consulting. Prior to EI, Pranav worked as a management consultant with Boston Consulting Group in USA, Germany, Chile and Argentina. He also worked as a Private Equity investor with GTI Global in USA and India. Pranav graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.
Pranav Kothari