It's more than two-and-half months since schools started in Goa after a two-year gap due to the pandemic, and primary children are yet to adjust to life in school after the lockdown. Some children enjoyed being back whilst others are still adjusting – it’s a whole new world for them.
Says Sister Rosalin Crasto, Principal of St Thomas Girls High School, Aldona, “Children in Std I have lost touch of school routine during the last two years away. I have children who don’t know ABCD; there are children who are unable to sit in one place; there are children who are unable to comprehend basic discipline. These have been difficult two months but things are falling in place."
Fr Valerian Coutinho, Principal of St Thomas Boys High School, Aldona, says, “Learning has slowed down and students are addicted to mobiles. My teachers have realised that children are mentally and emotionally detached from their parents and the school is trying to impart classes which involve the students physically and through assignments.”
Learning online and learning with colleagues are not drinking from the same cup and that explains why teachers in government-aided schools in Goa are spending more time constantly filling up the cups of education.
Clara Salgaonkar, Std I teacher of St Francis HS, Peddem, observes, “After teaching empty classes through videos for two years it felt great to see students back. The joy of physically being with students cannot be expressed. I took to teaching because I love being with children and I can feel that love back again."
“The children appeared lost initially and we expected it to happen. However, they are turning around. Some are taking time whilst others have adapted but as a teacher, I want all to be on the same plank as the academic year progresses," states Clara.
Explains Sister Rosalina, “Teachers are striving to maintain a psychological balance amongst students. Children who come here are from different backgrounds and that is why the school has a counsellor to understand and help them adjust."
Sylvia Cardozo, a mother, says, “My daughter and I are happy that school has started. It is helping my daughter grow socially. She is taking time to adjust to the style of teaching in schools because she was used to her online classes. As a six-year-old, I think she is doing fine and most importantly, enjoying herself. It has given me my space too,"
Another parent Shaun Fernandes adds, “As long as my work continues online, I am enjoying taking my daughter to school and bringing her back. Listening to her on the way to school and back is an experience. I am sure I am going to miss it when I will be called back to work.”
A mother, who wished to remain anonymous, says, “I find it difficult to know what my son has missed in class during his absence due to sickness as the online system has been totally stopped. Getting what he has missed is becoming a problem and I hope the school will find a way out of this problem."
Another parent who also spoke on condition of anonymity, says, “My child is finding it difficult to cope with her writing speed. She cannot keep to the writing speed of her teacher when the latter is writing speed on the board. Not all teachers are the same and it appears some of them are pushing their children so as to finish their targets.“
The psychological scar of being away from school and their peers for two years is still visible among primary school children as some parents are still seen cajoling their children to go to class. Parents and school staff needed to be patted for realising that it needs two hands to clap and when it concerns children, even more.