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Ensuring continuity of learning outcome for children of Tea garden area schools in Udalguri and Golaghat Districts and Upper Primary schools of Jorhat District

Approach note on development of home based learning materials
DIET Jorhat has been engaged in promoting Multi grade and multi level learning strategy for last 10 years. The success of MGML strategy depends on learning materials that promotes independent pursuing of Knowledge from different sources. In fact the entire process needs research backup at the trialing centers. Different types of learning materials are developed at DIET Jorhat to face situations in the single teacher schools, special training centres for out of school chidren, remote area schools and in Tea garden are schools .The Covid-19 pandemic has raised an unprecedented situation that practically closes all the schools and colleges in the country for months together. The school authority has tried their best to support students to continue the courses through online measures. However, the online transaction has its own merits and demerits. The remote area schools in particular and schools in urban and semi urban locality in general need some other ways to continue the course. Here comes the question of providing autonomous learning materials specially designed for each learner of the severely affected area.

In view of COVID 19 pandemic, Government of Assam has closed down all education institutions since March 16, 2020. And all activities in the school were under lockdown since March 23, 2020. Children are experiencing a learning crisis, as they are deprived from class room teaching. Department of Education, Government of Assam has promoted many digital learning platforms like (i) DIKSHA, (ii) e-Pathsala in Government / Provincilaised schools. Government is also exploring the resource and technical support of Primal Foundation, Pratham (UNICEF Partner),UNICEF-Assam and other likeminded organization which are ready to support. Many teachers also developed innovative e-learning platforms on their own so that students can learn from their home. However, Tea Garden Managements are lagging behind in providing support to their schools to mitigate the COVID 19 impact on education of the children. This may be due to lack of resources or professional expertise. Moreover, capacity of teachers in Tea Garden Management Schools is also a concern in promoting digital platforms in TG managed Schools.

So continuing education through alternative learning pathways, as soon as possible, must be a top priority right now for Government as well as Tea Garden Management, to ensure the interruption to education is as limited as possible. Considering the above, the following interventions have been formulated to mitigate the impact of COVID 19 on education of the children in Tea Garden area Schools of the state.
Objectives :
• Ensuring continuity of learning in TG area school children through alternative learning platforms and psycho-social support to the children and their family during COVID 19 Pandemic.
• Ensuring childrenís access to grade appropriate quality education for improved learning Outcomes in elementary education
• Helping students develop skills of reading and writing to connect information to big idea (multi concept).
• Collaborating with peers and reaching out to solution through experiments

What we intend to do :
• Develop home based worksheet / print materials for children who do not have access to digital and non digital learning platform.
• Develop digital content for children to be used at home with the support of teachers.
• Provide psycho-social support to the children and their families.
Advantages of a situation born out of COVID-19 pandemic worldwide.
The situation has confined students to open schooling within the home environment. It has promoted the idea of home as an ideal centre of learning where the learners can learn without any compulsion. Our experience with Multi grade and multi level approach has convinced us to stick to independent learning when the teachers provide help as and when necessary. The same strategy can now be employed by providing ñ (a) skill based approach, (b) self learning and(c) self evaluation, with a variety of multilevel task, flexible but not linear. An evolving materials to meet individual need with incorporation of specific culture (language).

Based on all these we intend to help children continue their learning in COVID-19 pandemic situation where school buildings are closed but learning is not stopped. When normal is situation is disturbed.

The entire effort of developing this material is to make it cost effective and sustainable and portable (online/offline).It will be developed to make students more accountable and to groom interdependence skills. The success of this material is embedded to action research bypracticing teachers to modify existing information and practices. The learning Package will provide golden opportunity to test the efficacy of a skill based learning programme  when literacy and numeracy emerge as a byproduct. This will provide opportunity to do away with mandatory order of fixed learning activities as the learners will be able to choose activities as per their own style of learning. What is more important, the learners will develop democratic mindset with ample concerns to become independent learners as we know the common learning skills that a child need to acquire during a particular stage (NCF-2005) . So we can adopt a skill based approach where the theme will help us integrate different subject and also the learning skills. Our activities will be designed to facilitate ample scope for practicing the skills in a multi situational setup.

It is also hoped that this will develop content knowledge of students in a relatively short period. The assessment will be continuous as the students will track their self progress. This skill based approach will be operated in the MGML methodology as the home situation is similar ( children of different age and grade in a family). For designing activities and also for implementation of activities Blooms Taxonomy will be followed.

As the activities are sequential from simple to complex and more emphasis on developing skills.One activity does not appear as a problem but as a solution. The children can carry on with the activities where they have last left. This is possible as there is frequent repetition of similar activities in the material which children can pick up comfortably.
Benefits of skill based self learning package:
It facilitates integration of different subject matters. Children learn different contents effortlessly and naturally. The learners get opportunity to use their acquired knowledge. The process of assimilation and accommodation is strengthened. The learner can easily move to a big idea and can appreciate the linkage with topic discussed. As acquiring of skill is a matter of practice, completion of one activity is not important, and each activity provides benefits of mistake and this leads to acquiring of targeted skills. The Teachers and the learners can always develop better activity in case the practiced activities are not suitable. Moving from lower order to higher order skills (cognitive, affective and psychomotor) is possible. Guiding Principles of NCF 2005 can be followed naturally.
Methodology to be followed in this self learning package-
Theme: Big issues/big idea drawn from day to day real life situation.
Integration of different subjects.
Different types of activities based on Bloomís taxonomy.
Information processing skill
Major thrust in reading, writing and numeracy.
Learning outcome based.
Our assumptions:
1. If a learner acquires the skill of reading and writing then they are better placed to acquire other pedagogical content knowledge.
2. Acquiring of skill is dependent on number and time on task activities.
3. The focus on skills leads to inclusion of different subject areas.
4. Skill based curriculum creates a natural outlet for learning where anyone can go up according to their pace of learning (learning from mistakes)
5. Evaluation is basically for teachers to identify learnersí level of engagement in learning.
Procedural design
The uniqueness of these learning materials lies in its focus on non linear framework. The materials will convert each household to a learning center like a school and help the family members to act as a participant.

The self learning worksheets will be developed on themes that are linked to day to day realities. Naturally the focus is on pedagogical content knowledge where specific skills are identified for practice and acquisition .Thus this skill based approach will provide lot of activities across the subject areas and procedural part of knowledge is upper hand in our mind. There is no display of activities in a linear way. Children can take up any activities as per their own choice and pace. However they have to complete the activities included as a whole. Lot of practice activities to be included to enable the children to learn from mistakes. The teachers can also run this with active personal engagement as they are required to support children wherever required by preparing supplementary learning materials for key activities. It will ensure their ownership of  the material .In specific cases, the learners will be provided booklets containing 3 / 4 pages. The booklets will follow the curriculum broadly. The booklets will not follow the normal textbook format. There will be no subject demarcation. The skills that unite the subjects will be practiced. After the completion of one booklet, the learner will move to next booklets. As the practice work will be done in copy books or in other arrangement without spoiling the pages, the booklets can be  handed  over  to  other  learners  of  the  neighbourhood  after  completion.  As  the booklets/guidebooks will move from lower order skills to higher order skills, the learners will take up activities as per their own interest, space and opportunity. Precautionary measures will be enforced when the facilitators visit households to meet the learners.

Each child will be provided the assessment activities in a book form so that they can preserve their own work in their respective file for subsequent interaction with teachers, parents and other members of the community. The entire package is divided in two parts-one part is developed for grade I and grade II, the other part for grade III to grade V. The major focus of this procedure is to place children in the driverís seat by enabling learners to read and write in grade I and II.
Monitoring and support
The success of this program deepens on effective monitoring mechanism the entire process of monitoring will be run by several agency that include tea garden management ,project facilitator, teachers and volunteers. However distribution of learning materials to the selected households will be done by the project facilitator through Tea garden management. They will also visit households as per action plan. In each visit to households they will review the works of students and also help the students records, their progress in the evaluation sheet. The facilitator will discuss with the concern teachers about of status of learning in catchment area of the school. The teachers will develop learning materials as per need and communicate with the project team at DIET for refinement. The DIET will conduct online session with teachers once in a month. The DIET project team will visit the selected households to get the first hand information and to conduct action research to improve the strategies.

Thus this monitoring mechanism will be directed towards improving quality of  learning  materials supported by research backup.