Sunday afternoon got educators from across the country together – North, South, East and West as one voice, #SaveOurSchools. This mind you took only a matter of minutes to form a common group of like minded educators and parents only days ago, and one virtual meeting on Saturday (these days, in the education space anything virtual is considered to be ‘not the same’ as a physical discussion – we accept but what’s the alternative? Wait till we are virus free? Or optimise on the time and variables that are available and make things happen?). Well, we used the power of technology to come together, to align our thoughts, to show support for our peers in Gujarat because we cared about the children studying in private unaided schools in the state that could face school closure forever as managements cannot sustain without collection of fees which is the directive of the government. The GOG believes that parents should not have to honour their contractual commitment to the private schools they picked willingly (and were desirous of; knowing all the policies and fee related information) in event of the pandemic.
To be trended as the Number One hashtag in Gujarat and also in the top 3/4 most trended topics in the country with over a lac tweets sharing perspectives about directives and policies initiated by the local government meant there was a common goal, and something that got educators, irrespective of theIr academic boards, or where their own schools were located in India to tweet in a rational and definitive manner to those making decisions that policies like this will arrest the progress of the nation.
2 to 6pm Tweet Storm – as many of us have admitted, there was a deep sense of satisfaction as our fraternity stood together to support a re-think of directives even if it did not impact them individually. Using examples, and facts, and stating important aspects that have been not been considered when passing blanket bans were tweeted, and #SaveOurSchools, that voice of educators, teachers and parents wanted to speak about building capacities, about skilling teachers, children and parents to embrace remote learning as a means of continuous learning, share the innovative ideas of how teachers have risen to the occasion and delivered. The voice spoke about reports in leading organisations that admit prolonged absence from school will have detrimental effects on the children and virtual learning is not static apps downloaded but real engagements with their teachers who optimise screen time permitted to making learning interactive, engaging and relevant not to mention emotionally securing children who have been in lock down.
For these tiring efforts, the request was to have parents honour their commitment to paying fees so that teacher salaries can be paid and other expenditure accounted for.
There was a desire to ensure Digital India vision is realised – educators are conscious that steps have to be taken now and today, to secure our children with skills so that they can compete with the best in class worldwide with their foundational learning when they take their place in the world tomorrow. As a nation, we seem ti be lagging two years behind.
Yesterday was about solidarity that laws cannot be passed without discussions and involving relevant stake-holders, regulation for schools need to happen in a systematic way, the processes need to have a common objective and also, those willing to put in time, efforts and investments and bring in best in class academic and administrative policies cannot be deterred by these laws that are making it virtually impossible to sustain.
It was about collaboration, critical thinking, planning, and communicating in a scientific and objective way, it was about engaging and using technology to deliver, it was about one community across the nation lending a voice to those who must listen.
Courts will get involved and there will be more petitions we know, but for the time being it was an honour to work alongside and learn from fellow educators, teachers and parents and know that the future of this country, in the hands of these experts is in good hands, and these hands are strong enough to create a storm when required for the sake of the children, teachers and their future.