What has COVID-19 meant for education ?

BY KARNIKA BEHL

In the recent years, classrooms have evolved from blackboards and chalks to digital boards and projectors. 

The whole dynamics of education has changed and classrooms aren’t just about books. Classrooms are thinking labs where students are preparing to take on the world.

Since the spread of COVID-19, schools and colleges had come to a standstill, worldwide. More than a billion students were affected by the closing down of schools and colleges.Many schools and colleges cancelled exams and the entrance exams too were postponed. Closing down of education centres like schools and colleges didn’t only have a short term impact on the continuity of learning but it also had societal and economic consequences. It won’t come as a surprise if many students choose to drop out of their education owing to these difficulties. Many of these students come from financially weak backgrounds and might shift to taking up odd jobs in order to help their families during these times. 

Private run schools and universities soon adopted online teaching methods on apps like zoom call, Google meet, etc. Whereas government schools and other low income private schools had to shut down due to the pandemic. Many such schools provided the students with healthy meals everyday. The students of such schools not only missed out on opportunities to learn but also faced social and economic stress. 

Many students studying at universities abroad were stuck with no means of coming back. In the near future,this might also lead to fewer students going abroad for their education. These universities fear a major financial risk since the majority of the students pursuing their studies in these universities are from India and China. 

The drop in employment rate is the biggest concern. Recent graduates are fearing a dip in job offers because of the current situation. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s estimates on unemployment shot up from 8.4% in mid-March to 23% in early April and the urban unemployment rate to 30.9%. 

There’s no doubt that the traditional chalk and board method has now given way to this new teaching model that is driven by technology. Teachers are putting in strenuous efforts to make sure that students face no problems in understanding their lessons. Many of them are still adapting to this new teaching and learning system. 

It is not easy for any student to let go of an academic year. Strategic planning is required to manage the crisis and build a strong educational system in the country for the long term. Continuing education through alternate ways must be encouraged. The digital initiatives of MHRD( Ministry of Human Resource Development) has made several arrangements for secondary as well as higher education during COVID-19. Portals such as Diksha and e-pathshala are providing learning content for students between classes 1-12. The portals are providing content in English, Hindi and Urdu and it has been developed under the guidance of CBSE and NCERT. e-learning platforms however do face certain challenges. In a diverse country like India, it is often difficult to touch upon the various different dialects and references that are brought together in classroom teaching. Government should ensure that quality standards are achieved. 

It is indeed the need of the hour to reach out to the educational institutes that are nestled in the small cities and villages of the country to ensure that no student misses on education this year. Knowledge must be imparted to one and all. Creative strategies are required so that all students have access to education. Education is a life saver. Not only does it provide a child with a safe and protective environment, it also gives them the hope of a bright future.

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