Rebuilding School, Children First : Daily Current Affairs

Relevance: GS-2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education.

Key Phrases: deep learning crisis, NAS 2021, build a skilled and intellectual workforce, poor children lacking basic foundational skills, bridge courses are like additive process, how to make schools more responsive to children and their needs, a positive influence on the teacher-student relationship, a child-first approach;


  • The COVID pandemic has caused a deep learning crisis in the country.
  • Recently, National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021 was published.
    • As per this, the performance of students in subjects ranging from maths to social science has fallen by 9% points (from 2017 to 2021).
  • This learning loss must be analysed across different sub-indicators to chalk out a plan to cover up the loss and build a skilled and intellectual workforce.

Key Highlights of the article

  • The reason behind learning loss
    • Absence of a formal, structured learning environment
      • The learning loss seems to be more applicable to those children who do not have educational support at home.
      • Also, due to other constraints, educational attainment could have been affected:
        • Children would have to help their parents in earning household income.
        • Children would have lost close ones to the pandemic.

National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021

  • It is conducted by the Ministry of Education.
  • It was designed by NCERT and the evaluation administrator for the survey was CBSE.
  • It was conducted across 1.18 L institutions comprising State Government schools, Government Aided Schools, Private Unaided Recognized Schools, as well as Central Government schools.
  • The sampled schools were chosen using UDISE+ 2019–2020 data.
  • The tests were conducted across classes 3,5,8 and 10.
  • Observations
    • The national average scores of students across subjects have dropped by approx. 47 marks (vs 2017).
    • Rural Areas have performed below their urban counterparts in the same state.
    • Learning outcomes of students from SCs/ STs/ OBCs have remained below that of students from the General category.
    • The average performance of girls remained better than the boys in almost all subjects across the classes, both nationally and at the state level.
    • 78% of students termed learning during the pandemic as burdensome due to overburdening of assignments.
    • 24% of students declared that they didn’t have any digital means to continue education.
    • Most of the states and UTs have performed below the national average, except Delhi, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
  •  The NAS is the 1st nationwide survey of quality education after the lockdown and extended closure of schools. Therefore, its results assume greater significance.

Gaps in NAS and its repercussions

  • Conventional way of measuring the learning outcome
    • The meanings of learning, pedagogy, and peer interaction have changed with the shift to the online mode.
    • But, the assessment tools continue to be centred on the offline mode of instruction.
  • Labelling a section of children as “weak”
    • This causes further disillusionment in students causing a loss of interest in academics.
  • It doesn’t factor in new skills and relevant knowledge that a student might have learnt during the pandemic.
    • The current format validates certain kinds of learning which take place in the classroom and exclude all other experiences outside it.
    • Students have been exposed to parental work, household chores, gardens, forests and other natural environments around them.
    • Related to this is the narrative of poor children lacking basic foundational skills.
  • Dilution of the meaning of learning
    • Rote learning is promoted and the assessment restricts itself to a fixed curriculum which tests memory more than knowledge.
    • Remedial programs like bridge courses are based on an understanding of learning as an additive process.
      • As per this, the learning loss can be recovered by increasing either the content intake or the instruction time.
  • There is an assumption that learning manifests itself easily irrespective of who is evaluating and under what circumstances.
    • Lack of sufficient care to understand how children relate to the assessment exercise.

Way Forward

  • It is important to know what students may have experienced/acquired in this period.
    • Apart from knowing what children do not know, it is important to know what they have learned.
  • As different students are now at different educational levels, a differential approach is required to curb the learning loss.
    • Hence, instead of asking how to make children ready for school, a more valid question to ask perhaps would be how to make schools more responsive to children and their needs.
  • Schools must have provisions for students to express themselves regarding losses suffered and learnings undertaken by cultivating safe spaces.
    • Providing such spaces would be very critical in processing grief.
    • This should become part of the school culture.
    • This will allow children to reclaim their spaces in the classroom.
  • Well-being of teachers must be ensured
    • Only by involving teachers in the right way can the confidence of students in the education system can be rebuilt and the learning experience can be made fun and engaging.


  • These measures will have a positive influence on the teacher-student relationship and help bridge the trust deficit that has been created by long school closures. But the process must start by adopting a child-first approach in essence.

Source: Indian Express

Mains Question:

Q. What is learning loss? How does National Achievement Process measure this? What are the challenges in this system of measurement? Suggest a suitable way forward.