Expectations of post-COVID-19 era education in Nepal

Krishna Prasad Parajuli

Introduction

Now we are facing the global health crisis caused by COVID-19. Most of the countries in the world are asking people to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus. Following the recommendation of WHO, the Government of Nepal also ordered lockdown on March 23, 2019. The lockdown is going on and it is not certain that when it will be lifted. On the 15th June 2020, the Government of Nepal changed the modality of the lockdown and is loosely monitoring it. The lockdown has been eased to increase economic activities. As a result, the government offices, industries, shopping centres are carefully operated with some preventive measures. However, there is much uncertainty over schools and universities reopening. This article reflects on the effect of the global pandemic on education and the possibilities it opens up for the transformation of teaching-learning in Nepal, especially in the rural area where access to information and communication technology is limited. The rhythm of educational activities has been seriously altered because of the lockdown. Robert (2020, June 11) reported a deep learning crisis worldwide as about 1.5 billion students have been taking measures for COVID-19 prevention as the schools have shut down. All countries are making an effort to combat the COVID-19 and normalise people’s lives including education sectors.

Tribhuvan University, the oldest and largest university of Nepal, decided to adopt online teaching as an alternative teaching mode. Other universities followed similar practices. Nepal Open University based on online learning mode has been normally operating all academic activities. It has been observed that the majority of university students except Nepal Open University are scattered across the country and locked where they had been before the commencement of the lockdown in the country. They are unable to communicate with their university colleges and are probably waiting the day when their colleges will reopen for academic activities. The majority of undergraduate and school students are outside the coverage of online learning, especially in rural areas. Although some campuses have started online classes for Bachelors and Masters students, a large number of students are unable to join such classes because of lack of internet access and digital devices.

Although I have created a Google class for my students to extend learning space beyond four walls of the classroom before the pandemic, only few students used to visit it. Now they come to join Google classroom or ZOOM meeting more frequently although some students are unable to join my online classes. It is too early to forecast the effectiveness of online class for my students. We are experimenting with new learning technology. I am fortunate in the sense that I can apply my experience of studying in online and blended learning mode. I had done an online teacher training course from the University of Oregon and I am doing M. Phil at Nepal Open University. Now I am using my experience of remote learning to shape my online teaching practices.

To continue teaching-learning during the lockdown, many countries in the world have used radio, television, mobile technology or home delivery of printed materials to help students in their self-learning activities at home during COVID-19 (Robert, 2020, June 11). The government of Nepal has implemented alternative learning system for students grouping them into five categories: students outside the access of any technology, students with access to radio, students with access to TV, students with access to computer and students with access to computer and internet. The government has instructed to provide learning opportunities to all students at their home with the appropriate mode of delivery using print, audiovisual and online resources (Ministry of Education Science and Technology, 2020). The guidelines recognised online teaching as one of the teaching-learning modes.

I have observed high enthusiasm among the teachers in virtual space when the schools and campuses are shut down. Teachers are making attempts to reach to their students through various media on one hand and they are learning digital and pedagogical skills through online conference and training. Teachers have participated in professional development activities organised by various organisations. I frequently get an invitation to attend such opportunities. For example, I had three invitations on Facebook to participate in join online teacher training sessions on zoom. I have observed that many teachers are ready to teach online. However, limited access to ICT in rural areas prevents teachers to go online teaching immediately.

It seems that the teaching-learning continues with this alternative teaching mode for a few months. The face-to-face mode of learning will resume when the global health crisis will be resolved and school classes become safe. By the time the pandemic is over, I guess that more teachers will acquire digital and pedagogical skills and more teachers and students will have access to digital technology. Teachers are unlikely to unlearn the skills they learn during the pandemic as Robert Franek notes (Dickler, 2020, May 20). Kim (2020, April 1) predicts that in post-pandemic situation blended learning will rapidly increase and the top priority of educational instructions and that professional development of teachers will be geared up to integrate ICT in teaching-learning rather than outsource agencies to provide online learning.

I am not much hopeful that Kim’s prediction comes true in our context. However, I believe that, when school will resume, thousands of teachers will use some of the digital skills for teaching they acquired during the pandemic period. However, the actual use of these skills depends on available technology and school administrative policy. I believe that teachers teaching in rural schools will also continue with the use of ICT. I see the following possibilities in ICT integration in education in Nepal in post-COVID-19 era.

  • The Federal and local government will invest more in ICT infrastructures in remote areas. More schools will get access to the internet which will open a new venue for teaching-learning.
  • Teachers will continue to attend virtual conference, training and seminar regardless of their location. The frequency of online professional training will increase.
  • The government can provide virtual training so that teachers can balance time for teaching and participating in the training. This will save time and expenses for attending the training.
  • The training centre can hire experts drawing from the wider pool of experts easily and teachers can study at home.
  • Teachers can teach or take part in school meeting when they are away from school for personal or professional responsibilities.
  • Teachers can invite more experienced teacher as a guest teacher in their class through video conferencing.
  • Teacher and students can share class notes and other digital resources on the virtual classes which will save more time for class discussions.
  • Teacher and students can have a virtual discussion during long holidays or examination times.
  • Teachers can support the students who cannot attend face-to-face class because of illness or other reasons.
  • Teachers will share, collaborate and create digital teaching-learning.
  • Teachers are likely to observe other teachers’ virtual class which will enhance their pedagogical skills.

Conclusion

The global health crisis has forced teachers and students to stay at home. The use of ICT tools for teaching and learning in online mode has become an alternative mode instead of traditional face-to-face mode to prevent the spread of corona virus. ICT has drawn the attention of teachers, students, parents and educators. Despite the fact that many students in Nepal are unable to get access to virtual classes due to lack of ICT infrastructure, many teachers are trying to utilise internet and other available resources to meet the current needs of students. It is evident that the use of ICT will continue to grow in the post-COVID-19 era in Nepal by opening several possibilities.

Krishna Prasad Parajuli is a lecturer of English Education at Drabya Shah Multiple Campus, Gorkha. He is the Vice-Chair of NELTA Gorkha and a member of IATEFL. He is an M.Phil scholar of English Education at Nepal Open University.

Reference

Dickler, J. (2020, May 20). Post-pandemic, remote learning could be here to stay. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/20/post-pandemic-remote-learning-could-be-here-to-stay.html

Kim, J. (2020, April 1). Three post-pandemic predictions.

Ministry of Education Science and Technology. (2020). Alternative learning system implementation guidelines 2020. https://moe.gov.np/article/1323/html

Robert, J. (2020, June 11). Opinion: Reimagining education — this is the moment to think big. Devex. https://www.devex.com/news/opinion-reimagining-education-this-is-the-moment-to-think-big-97405

 

Cite as: Parajuli, K. (2020, July). Expectations of post-COVID-19 era education in Nepal. http://eltchoutari.com/2020/07/expectations-of-post-covid-19-era-education-in-nepal/

Welcome to Eighth Anniversary of Choutari: A Special Issue on ICT in ELT

ict-in-education-elt-choutariDear teachers, educators and learners,

Learning is a lifelong process. Even a person at the end of his or her life says, ‘Had I done that…’. The philosophy of education and teaching profession keeps changing in the course of time. The traditional meaning of teacher has been modified as soon as the technologies emerged into the social life. The new digital technologies in daily life have transformed the socio-cultural aspects, educational norms and learning strategies. It has mounted the responsibilities of teachers, institutions and community to understand the fast-changing society and move with the time. At the same time, smart technology has already been accepted as a part of daily life. With the advantages of using smart technology, the technological environment has also generated challenges for the teachers, schools and communities.

Social mobility, migration and transformation of values and norms have consistently engendered various innovations, options and obligations in daily life. Such movements develop some aspects of the society as well as endanger some identities of the human beings. Among the several identities of different communities, language is one of them. There are still over 6500 languages surviving in the world although most of them are limited to verbal form only. After the World War II, the rapid social mobilisation brought several changes in social life. The development of computer technology emerged into our daily life. It increased industrialisation, international business, globalisation of education. The developments created such an environment where the world had to redefine ‘education’ as per the social needs and changes. The national institutions in different countries were renamed as International; these international institutions followed the way of world trade organisation. Education then has been driven by business motive rather than social transformation. Consistently industrialisation dominated socialisation and demanded socialisation according to industrialisation.

When we review last two decades of global change, industrialisation has led socialisation. Industrialisation of natural resources, human resource, technology, ideology and education has changed the way of socialising in the modern world. No nation can survive independently in the world today. It has been imperative for every country to share products, skills and bills. The powerful nations accelerated industrialisation and internationalised their products. The internationalisation of every product in a country demanded link language to communicate with each other. The underdeveloped and developing countries as consumers of multi-national products had to learn the language of industrialised nations. For instance, English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Russian and Chinese languages have been international languages due to their industrial development. Whereas, thousands of other languages are in the line of extinction. Technological development has much deterred the use of other languages existing in different communities in the world. Over 2000 languages with less than 1000 speakers are going to extinct soon whereas other several languages are dying gradually.

With the development of Web 2.0 technology in the new millennium, the world has been much controlled by the English language. The recent online information states that the English language has occupied over 90 percent digital information world. It is evident that the English language has been an international language and official language of many countries. The internationalisation of English language has been dominating other languages in the world.

The acceptance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in education has much accelerated in the development of English language in the non-native ground of English language. This issue of http://eltchoutari.com/ presents various experiences of English language teachers from different countries in South-East Asia, Middle-East Asia and West Africa. It shares English teachers’ ICT practice in English language teaching and learning in various contexts. Teachers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam, Jordan and Ghana have also written about ICTs in English language teaching and learning in their contexts. Their contribution along with the English teachers from Nepal has made this issue a more reflective and hopefully productive.

Jeevan Karki, one of the editorial team members of this digital portal, has highlighted how the teachers can integrate mobile phones into English language teaching-learning activities and also shares the practices of English language teachers of remote schools of Nepal. In another post, Dr. Kofi Ayebi from Ghana has described the strategy of ICT integration in education from primary to tertiary level. He highlights ICT in primary school education as a fundamental course to prepare the children for higher level school. The government of Ghana has executed ICT in education policy at all levels with the aim of developing the skilled human resource to meet the requirement of the industry. Ghana equally emphasises the English language in institutions and official purpose.

SM Akramul Kabir from Bangladesh describes the situation of ICT use in schools in Bangladesh. He points out the challenges of implementing ICT in education policy in teaching and learning where there is a lack of skilled teachers and technology support. Although there are schools in Bangladesh trying various forms of ICTs in instructional activities, he says that insufficient IT support for the academic institutions across the country, lack of high-speed internet connection, and frequent power cut problem in rural and suburban areas are major issues to be fixed to execute ICT in education policy successfully.

Ambadatta Joshi from Nepal who has been teaching English in a primary school with digital devices (Laptop) reflects his lifelong learning. His schooling with Dhulauto (a wooden flake with dust on it) to teaching with digital technology can be an inspiring story for many teachers and learners in the world.

Upendra Ghimire in another post suggests some advantages of mobile in English language learning. Thinh Le from Vietnam explicates that his practice of online tools resulted in good after a long online teaching and learning activities. His experiential writing may encourage many school teachers and learners to use digital tools such as Skype, Moodle, Zoom, Facebook or other tools to communicate with each other, discuss lessons and share ideas from distance virtual environment.

Similarly, Muneir Gwasmeh from Jordan shares his English language teaching experience in Jordanian and Abu Dhabi schools using audio technologies. He considers that digital technologies provide the second language learners with an opportunity of learning the language in the absence of teachers or even what the teachers missed. Haprpinder Kaur from India explicates that how a school teacher came to learn the correct English pronunciation with the support of smartboard in the classroom. Her reflective writing may insist the non-native English teachers teaching English in the exotic ground to rethink about their English language teaching. It also suggests that the teachers have to learn to use digital technologies to upgrade their knowledge and skills. Similarly, Shaista Rasheed from Pakistan suggests the teachers use online tools to teach English as well as other subjects. Her experience of using Google group in English language teaching can be a good example for English language teachers.

In this connection, Choutari editor Ashok Raj Khati has talked to Dr. Balkrishna SharmaPraveen Kumar Yadav and Dr. Shyam Sharma to reflect back the seven years journey of ELT Choutari. In the same line, one of our regular readers, Narendra Singh Dhami, explains on how he exploits this forum for his day-to-day teaching.

Here is the list of the hyperlinked posts included for this issue:

  1. Avenues of Mobile Phones in ELT- Practices of Remote Schools in Nepal, by Jeevan Karki
  2. ICT/Digital technology in Ghana, by Dr Kofi Ayebi 
  3. ICT in Bangladesh: A potential tool to promote language education, by SM Akramul Kabir
  4. My experience using digital technology in primary school, by Ambadatta Joshi
  5. ICT in English Language Teaching and Learning: South-East Asia, by Upendra Ghimire and Thinh Le
  6. ICT in English language teaching and learning in South to Middle-East Asia. by Muneir Gwasmeh, Haprpinder Kaur and Shaista Rasheed
  7. ELT Choutari Journey of Seven Years: Reflections 

Finally, the thanks go to the contributors who have given their invaluable time to share their experiences, ideas and researches. At the same time, the team of Choutari who have constantly been putting their efforts to develop this platform equally deserves credits. To bring out the special issue, I am also grateful to the members of the editorial team, Ashok Raj Khati, Jeevan Karki and Praveen Kumar Yadav for their editorial and technical supports.

Thank you.

Karna Rana

Karna Rana

Editor of the Issue

Mr. Rana is a PhD Candidate in the School of Teacher Education, College of Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.