Written By Srinjoy Mitra (Grade 8)
The world today stands devastated, after the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus. Having already triggered a sense of panic and turmoil around the globe, the ripple virus has created a very vulnerable situation everywhere. Even today, the proliferation in Covid-19 suspects round the globe is unimaginable. We seem to be witnessing the dance of death all around. The picture is extremely gloomy.
The uprise of this noxious Coronavirus has posed a great threat to various fields. Healthcare has already become a poll issue. Moreover, the industry has suffered, international aviation has suffered and even tourism has been badly hit. Challenges have also been faced by the agriculture sector. So it is evident that resurgence of these sectors will be a very long haul. But being a student, I firmly feel the education sector has come to a standstill with the education system has undergone a sea change.
“Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth, those who will care for and protect our people” —- Nelson Mandela
In an attempt to coax people into maintaining social distance, governments of all the affected countries had announced school closures since March last year. Being at the epicentre of this unprecedented global pandemic challenge, this step taken can certainly be considered effective. Education is undoubtedly one of the biggest indicators to the future health and wealth of the country. Although the attack rates of the virus are not that high in children, school closure is an effective step to reduce the transmission rates just to be on the safe side. After all, the safety of the children should be the biggest area of concern for the government.
With the government’s aid, the institutions have not only postponed the new session for the pupils but have also rescheduled many of the examinations (including the ICSE and ISC examinations). Many schools have taken the initiative to sanitize their premises to ensure the well-being of young learners after they join their classes. Despite such significant manoeuvres undertaken by each phrontistery of the myriad cities to limit the exposure of the students to the virus tenanted environment, the detriment faced by the education sector has indeed been overwhelming.
The mode of learning now, at least in reputed institutions, has shifted to digital technology up to the hilt. Whether through Whatsapp video conferencing or group conferencing in Zoom or Skype, the education field has pressed its hands on the accelerator giving a brief notion to everyone about the importance of digital learning in the days to come. By a single click or a single touch on the screen, children can access online forums and contact their teachers in public platforms. Currently, online programs have also started over the internet. The online tools seem to have replaced the chalk, duster and blackboards in the classrooms.
However, the use of digital technology in studies which is not very different from the smart classes received in schools nowadays seems to become a promising method of studying in the ensuing days. And not only students but teachers jumped on the bandwagon seizing this golden opportunity. The problem is being faced by those vulnerable children of the society who are impoverished and not privileged enough to have a personal phone. The new coronavirus is on its way to be regarded by the posterity as epoch-making that brought a sea change in the field of education. There are other important factors also at work which are leading to unnerving impacts on the society in general and the children in particular. As children are unable to visit school,
they are held captive in their dwellings. As a result, their parents have to give them company and they are most likely to cut down their chances of going to work. This affects their income, thereby indirectly affecting the financial health of the family.
In today’s modern world, parents do not even need to help their children navigate through the internet. Students are smart enough to track the homework and activities assigned to them by their teachers and complete them accordingly. The condition is so that the students learning in kindergarten as well as their parents too are quite concerned about the occurrences hereafter. The novel Coronavirus and the unprecedented circumstances have left the school authorities wondering how to reschedule plans towards completing courses this academic year. Even the admission cycle has been pushed further.
Thus, with uncertainty looming over the future of the global economy in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic, the exam cycle seems to be facing the profound problem of reorientation. These norms are likely to become an accepted order of things in the post-Corona era. Besides schoolchildren, undergraduates and postgraduates from renowned universities are also facing a tough time. Entrance examinations to engineering, law and medical courses have been put on hold, thereby creating anxiety among parents and students. Plagued by total uncertainty, many students who had already enrolled in courses abroad are amidst tremendous anguish. Being in the final year with no prospect of jobs and with visa deadlines racing against lockdown timelines, education loans (fees) are continuing to add financial strain. It seems that Coronavirus has shattered the aspirations of millions of undergraduate students.
As children and the teaching faculty remain confined to their homes, only meeting online, it has been observed that this mechanism is largely being adopted in urban areas and is limited to institutions catering to affluent sections of society. The reason is that many underdeveloped schools are not well equipped to offer such virtual classes and there are bandwidth and connectivity issues. As a result, these unprivileged children are deprived of the benefits of technological innovation.
Many experienced and highly qualified teachers have left their jobs fearing that they will receive a low salary and the jobs of many have been frozen by the government. As a result, the students have been deprived of receiving a quality education.
Being enclosed within the four walls of their homes due to quarantine and isolation measures, the children of the society are suffering from boredom, ennui and despair. This has led them to retain their most unproductive habit. As always, they have become couch potatoes as they lean on the sofa and continue gaping at the television screen or playing mobile games when they should
imbibe the habit of reading books and become avid readers and practise yoga. They are unmindful of what is going on next door. The virtual environment has already made them half-virtual. They are not even allowed to go to nearby parks and playgrounds to play with their friends as they might come into close contact. Moreover, it’s making them less social and amiable.
But it seems that there is no choice. Lockdown boredom has resulted in teenagers to challenge the rules of virtual intimacy. Deprived of social or physical interaction with their peers, they are pushing the boundaries of online interactions.
content online. There has been a great spike in the number of youngsters engaging in sexting. This is alarming. There have also been cases reported about cyber-bullying. Thus, with virtual classes becoming the order of the day and online courses turning out to be future realities, the novel Coronavirus is reshaping the education sector considerably. However, a majority of the students still feel that digital learning can never replace classroom learning. A mere effort to create a classroom atmosphere can never really supplant the real thing. Through video chatting, the lectures offered by teachers cannot always be comprehended well.
The dearth of socialization and student-teacher interaction makes online learning monotonous and isolated for the students. Also, students are hesitant to ask doubts and it becomes difficult for the teachers to clarify those doubts over the Internet. As a result, the students do not gain any insight into the subject. The backbenchers, especially, are unable to grasp the lesson. Peer relationships are also not well defined in an online milieu.
Although there has been a technological curve for everyone to scale, many young learners believe that a blended model of online and in-person instruction is likely to become increasingly popular once we regain the lost world. We are still to get a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. Currently, the world is battling the Covid-19 global health emergency, and it’s tragic economic and social ramifications. It is also racing against the clock to avoid the environmental crisis around the corner. The condition is so severe that several scientists and the health ministry have proclaimed that it is going to take a long time when there will be zero transmission of the Coronavirus. “There’s not going to be an early tapering off of the disease,” says one. Scientists all around the earth are trying to find a remedy to curb the spread of the virus.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, who developed the Ebola vaccine, has found a new cure, the efficacy of which is yet to be known. Although the scientists have worked their tail off to prepare a vaccine, it is still in its testing process. However, it is not possible to foresee the future exactly at this stage. Human civilization is witness to one of the greatest truth – “Necessity is the mother of invention.” But even the most incorrigible optimist will agree that it will be years before we regain the lost world.
Featured Image Courtesy – EURACTIV.com