Tamil Nadu teachers want reduced syllabus, psychological training, survey finds

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Over 3,000 teachers from across the State took an app-based survey on the aspects to focus on once schools reopen, and on the impact that COVID-19 has had on learning

Teachers should be given psychological training to interact with students and understand their concerns better, when schools reopen after the lockdown, said nearly 90% of the respondents in a participatory review conducted by the Forum for Child Friendly Schools (FCFS) and UNICEF.

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Over 3,000 teachers from across the State took an app-based survey on the aspects to focus on, once schools reopen as well as on the impact that COVID-19 has had on learning and how to ensure continuity, given the circumstances.

With around 62 items, the questionnaire was prepared by teachers, psychologists and activists.

Around 1,900 teachers who took the survey said that schools should be reopened only when the World Health Organisation(WHO) recommends that educational institutions can function and a majority of the teachers also said that everyone should be tested before the academic year begins. Apart from psychological training for teachers, 92% of the respondents also felt that both teachers and school management committee members should go through a comprehensive awareness program on COVID-19.

“While most teachers have had some sort of exposure or training in psychology, ensuring that they are trained before schools reopen this year is extremely important as children might need special attention and counselling once they are back to schools,” said Shyam Sundar, Director, Solar Trust, an NGO which has worked on this participatory review. Many teachers, particularly in rural areas, have found it tough to keep in touch with students through the lockdown and they must be be prepared to handle the concerns of the students, he added.

While the CBSE has already announced that they will be making a decision to tweak and minimize the syllabus for the coming year, many teachers in Tamil Nadu felt the need for the same as well. About 89% of the teachers who were part of the review felt that the syllabus should be reduced in all subjects.

As a part of its recommendations, the participatory review indicates that strict physical distancing norms during morning prayers, break time, serving of midday meals and in classrooms should be enforced.

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