Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Bangladesh, the government had taken several steps to keep the infection rate under control. As a part of the process, the country had gone into a time of general closure, and several educational institutions have been shut since the end of March and are yet to hold physical classes to date.
However, education is a continuous process and a halt in it can create a hole in the system which can hamper the students’ psychological well-being. Thus, educational institutions were encouraged to continue their courses through online classes. This was done with the best intention, but reality turned out to be a little harsh. Most people in Bangladesh are not accustomed to the online education mode, and there are hindrances to overcome.
A considerable number of students are generally reluctant to attend online classes as this process needs high-speed internet at a high cost, low speed in remote areas, and in some cases, not having access to digital devices. On top of it, online classes are unable to create the feel of the physical classroom. Consequently, it has become challenging for teachers to make the students understand the course material. Conducting and monitoring the work process has also become difficult for the teachers since some students now lack the motivation of submitting the assignments on time.
Senior students’ sometimes are less eager to participate, and managing them online has been a difficult task. Furthermore, dealing with parents’ complaints about submission deadlines and technical errors has also become a big concern for the schools.
All these hindrances make the classes less interactive and boring to some extent, which is slowing down the psychological growth of the students. Therefore, finding innovative ways to make lessons more interactive and exciting became a necessity.
DPS-STS, being one of the leading schools in Bangladesh, has been finding innovative ways to make online education more fun. In that regard, the school arranged various interactive competitions for the students to participate in, making their home stay more comfortable and enhancing the learning process.
Throughout these months, the school has organised numerous contests including Spelling Bee Competition for all grades, online debate competition, creative essay writing competition, inter-house maths puzzle competition, ‘Bangladesh through your eyes’ art exhibition, DPS Karaoke Superstar, DPS STS mimic your best friend contest, online solo dance competition, RYC Global Essay Contest (participants were from 15 countries), science poster project competition, National Poet’s death anniversary celebration, and many more.
These competitions allowed the students to portray their talents online and creatively express them. As a result, students are receiving a morale boost to cope with the current situation. But what about the parents? They are facing numerous difficulties as well, being confined in their houses.
Keeping their struggle in mind, DPS-STS has arranged various interactive online gatherings such as ADDA session with famous comedian Naveed Mahbub and Zara Mahbub, where the speakers discussed multiple concerns during a pandemic and how to cope with this ‘new normal’. Many parents attended the entertaining sessions. All the parents enjoyed and appreciated the initiative.
As the world is changing, it has become necessary for us to adapt or else we will lag behind. And it is vital to keep the education process running, not only to educate the students but for their mental well-being as well. Thus, creative online learning can play a pivotal role in the current situation, and it is high time for every educational institution to create their ways to make online education more enjoyable and interactive.
Madhu Wal is Principal, DPS STS School Dhaka