Education is in the concurrent list of the Constitution and majority of the schools are under the domain of respective State and UT Governments. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) vide their order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I (A) dated 30th September 2020 has stated that State/UT Governments may take a decision in respect of re-opening of schools, after 15th October, 2020, in a graded manner, the decision shall be taken in consultation with the respective school/institution management, based on their assessment of the situation.
The Department of School Education and Literacy has issued detailed SOP/guidelines regarding health and safety precautions for reopening of schools after issue of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines for unlock-5, on 5th October, 2020. These guidelines have been revised vide letter 17th December 2021. These guidelines can be accessed at following links respectively.
With a view to addressing the issues related to gaps and/or loss of learning among students, during and after the lockdown, National Council of Education Research & Training (NCERT) has prepared ‘Alternative Academic Calendar’ which is a Week-wise learning plan for grades 1 to 12. NCERT has also developed bridge course modules for out-of-school children including various activities which are helpful for bridging the learning gaps and the States/UTs have also been requested to prepare and implement School Readiness Module/Bridge Course in classrooms for initial one or two months for each grade. In addition the Department vide letter dated 4th May, 2021 has shared a comprehensive Covid Action Plan with States/UTs and other stakeholders for mitigating the loss of learning.
In addition, a comprehensive initiative called PM eVIDYA has been initiated which unifies all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education to enable multi-mode access to education. The initiative includes the following components:
- DIKSHA the nation’s digital infrastructure for providing quality e-content for school education in states/UTs: and QR coded Energized Textbooks for all grades (one nation, one digital platform)
- One earmarked SwayamPrabha TV channel per class from 1 to 12 (one class, one channel)
- Extensive use of Radio, Community radio and CBSE Podcast- Shiksha Vani
- Special e-content for visually and hearing impaired developed on Digitally Accessible Information System (DAISY) and in sign language on NIOS website/ YouTube
Where the digital facility (mobile device/ DTH television) is not available, Ministry of Education has taken many initiatives like Community Radio Stations and a podcast called Shiksha Vani of CBSE, Textbooks, Worksheets supplied to residents of learners, Handbook on 21st Century Skills and community/mohalla classes. Innovation Funds under Samagra Shiksha have been used to set up a mobile school, virtual studios, virtual classrooms in schools, Continuous Learning Plan (CLP), pre-loaded tablets, etc. in various states and UTs in remote/rural areas where online classes are difficult.
A National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy called “National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat)” has been launched by the Ministry of Education (MoE) on 5th July 2021 under the aegis of Samagra Shiksha. The National Mission lays down priorities and actionable agendas for States/UTs to achieve the goal of proficiency in foundational literacy and numeracy for every child by grade 3. Vidya Pravesh module has been launched for class I students. This is a play-based 3 months school preparation program for children entering Class I.
SWAYAM is a programme initiated by Government of India and designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., access, equity and quality. The objective of this effort is to take the best teaching-learning resources to all, including the most disadvantaged and to bridge the digital divide for students.
The Ministry has undertaken an initiative, named ‘MANODARPAN’ covering a wide range of activities to provide psychosocial support to students, teachers and families for Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing during the COVID outbreak and beyond. National Toll-free Helpline by the Ministry of Education for a country-wide outreach to students from schools, universities and colleges. This unique helpline is managed by a pool of experienced counselors/ Psychologists and other mental health professionals and will continue beyond the COVID-19 situation.
Further, in order to provide continuous professional development opportunities to the teachers at the elementary and secondary level, this Department launched the NISHTHA online training programme using DIKSHA platform in October 2020.