Online Learning & Teaching – Freedom from Lockdown & School Fees

There’s a big debate going on the edges of lockdown about online learning. Should we pay the school fees? Parents want some respite since the Covid 19 pandemic has affected almost everyone’s livelihood. Business is down and salaries have not been paid. Yet all essential expenses remain the same.

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Parents’ Problems with Online Learning and Lockdown

The parents contend that during the lockdown, schools do not have to pay for the maintenance of school premises. Also there are no school activities since schools are shut and that part of school fees should definitely be struck off. Many Schools have started teaching online, or should one say that the teachers have started teaching online. However, due to this the time table has come down to almost almost one third of a regular school day.  And since teachers are working from home, the school infrastructure is hardly being utilised.

The Schools’ Point of View

The schools in their argument say they have their maintenance, salaries and other expenses. The most schools are willing to do is let parents pay the full fees by the end of term. Schools are requesting the fees be paid since the online teaching of students is happening and that doesn’t come for free just because there is a lockdown in progress. The use of meeting apps and other apps or even those teachers who are recording videos and uploading on video platforms like YouTube takes a lot of effort and in many cases teachers are actually working double time. 

Both arguments have their merits. However, parents must understand that teachers are grappling with technology which they haven’t used earlier and they are working overtime so that lectures are uploaded on time. Earlier teachers used to walk into a classroom, give a lecture and walk out of it. Not that teachers did not have other work to do, but the video preparation part has become extra. They are now very busy making the videos, editing them and uploading them along with assessments and homework. 

The bright side of making these videos is that they will be able to use them and reuse them till the concept exists in the syllabus. Many batches of students can be taught with these videos and teachers can occupy themselves to solve doubts and create better assessments.

Stalemate – Why Should Parents’ Pay Full Fees

Parents are right when they claim that they need more than just time when it comes to paying fees. Especially the ones who send their children to private schools. Although the teachers have a right to be compensated for teaching online, why to pay for other items on the bill that are not being used. At the same time some children do not understand what’s being taught online.

Schools are waiting to open so that the parents’ complaints are addressed and everything on the school fee bill is justified. Even if the school reopening is delayed they cannot let go off the admin staff or stop paying them temporarily. 

Restarting Schools after the Lockdown

Although the government is toying with the idea of reopening schools, the question is – Is it safe? This pandemic is not going anywhere in the immediate future. The Government of India has already stated that cases of the virus in India will peak in November. Most parents will not be willing to send their children to school even after the lockdown is lifted. Who can trust children to follow social distancing rules?

How do you solve this conundrum?

It is time for teachers to take the reins in their hands. The really good teachers need no introduction and they should get together and form an online school. The current school model lacks many things. One of them being attention to weak students and helping them excel in studies. When you talk of private schools who pride themselves in studies, but who will interview children before admission – taking the best children out of thousands who apply is not really reflecting on your abilities. Teachers who have abilities to do just that are languishing behind in their institutes. Students who have studied under them remember them fondly. But the teachers have to work long hours and make sure the trustees are happy. There are enough complaints since before the lockdown that many schools have not paid teachers their salaries for at least 4 months. And those who are being paid, get peanuts as compensation on contract basis.

Online Learning is Here to Stay

Online teaching has already taken root. If there are children who do not understand online teaching, there are many who do. This is similar to the students who do not understand classroom teaching. These children need to be taught how to pass exams while pursuing their goals simultaneously – an advantage which online teaching gives. Only a few schools can help students this way. 

Another advantage online schools will have is students can have access to the best teachers anywhere in the world and changing residences will never be a stumbling block for parents’ of such students. Sports activities are necessary and students can enroll locally in whatever sports they find interesting. Virtual reality is around the corner and classroom teaching is on the way out. 

Assembling children in one place will only help team building and interaction. However, one doesn’t have to attend school for that. In fact we know that children hardly interact with relatives nowadays. Interaction happens on playgrounds and during other extracurricular activities.