Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

New Delhi: The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) under the guidance of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has developed alternative academic calendars for primary and upper primary stage (Classes VI to VIII). The aim of this initiative is to engage the students meaningfully during their stay at home amid COVID-19 lockdown through different educational activities at home with the help of their parents and teachers.

Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ released the 'Alternative Academic Calendar' for the upper primary stage was released in New Delhi today. The 'Alternative Academic Calendar' for the primary stage has been released by Union HRD Minister on April 16, 2020.

Union Minister Pokhriyal said that the 'calendar' provides guidelines to teachers on the use of various technological tools and social media tools available for imparting education in fun-filled and interesting ways. Learners, parents and teachers can use these tools even while being at home. However, it has taken into account the varying levels of access to such tools-Mobile, Radio, Television, SMS and various social media.

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He further stated that it is a fact that many learner, parents and teachers may not have internet facility in their mobile or may not be able to use different social media tools- such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. Under such circumstances, the calendar guides teachers to further guide parents and students through SMS on mobile phones or through voice call. Parents are expected to help elementary stage students to implement this Calendar.

Further, the minister said that soon all the remaining classes i.e., IX to XII and subject areas will be covered under this calendar. This calendar will cater to the need of all children including Divyang children (children with Special Need). Under this initiative, the link for audiobooks, radio programmes and video programme will be included.

The calendar contains week-wise plan consisting of interesting and challenging activities, with reference to theme/chapter taken from the syllabus or textbook. Most importantly, it maps the themes with the learning outcomes. The purpose of mapping of themes with learning outcomes is to facilitate teachers/parents to assess the progress in the learning of children and also to go beyond textbooks. The activities given in the calendar focus on learning outcomes and can thus be achieved through any resource including the textbooks that children use in their state or UT.

It also covers experiential learning activities such as arts education, physical exercises, yoga, pre-vocational skills, etc. This calendar contains class-wise and subject-wise activities in tabular forms. It also includes activities related to four languages as subject areas, i.e., Hindi, English, Urdu and Sanskrit and also gives space to the strategies of reducing stress and anxiety among teachers, students and parents. The calendar also includes a link for chapter wise e-content available on the e-pathshala, NROER and DIKSHA portal of GoI.

All the given activities are suggestive in nature, not prescriptive, nor is the sequence mandatory. Teachers and parents may opt to contextualise the activities and do those activities that the student shows interest in, irrespective of the sequence.

NCERT has already commenced live interactive sessions with students, parents and teachers through the TV channel Swayam Prabha (Kishore manch) ( available through Free DTH channel 128, Dish TV Channel # 950, SunDirect #793, Jio TV, Tatasky #756, Airtel Channel #440, Videocon Channel # 477),

Students, teachers and parents can download the Kishore Manch App from play store and can also access the YouTube live (NCERT Official Channel). NCERT will telecast the sessions from Monday to Saturday. The telecast timing for primary classes is from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm and for upper primary classes from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. In addition to interacting with the viewer, hands-on activities along with the teaching of topics are demonstrated in these live sessions. This calendar would also be disseminated by conducting video conferencing with SCERTs/SIEs, Directorates of Education, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, CBSE, State School Education Boards, etc.

The calendar will empower students, teachers, school principals and parents to find out positive ways to deal with COVID-19 using on-line teaching-learning resources and also improving their learning outcomes getting school education at home.

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