Education in times of Covid-19

Covid-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc across the globe.It has disturbed the pattern of our lives and livelihoods. Numerous restrictions have been placed upon the people to tackle the pandemic . One such restriction is the closure of schools and colleges across the country . This closure has transformed one’s house into one’s school . Online teaching through zoom , Google meet has become the new normal . 

“Am I audible?” “Mam please let me in!” . These phrases have replaced the ones like “Keep quiet everyone” , “All of you sit down”.

Online learning is the need of the hour. But it is not without certain limitations. 

In India, there has been a rich-poor divide, literate-illiterate divide but online teaching has fostered a digital divide. Not everyone has access to laptops , 4G connectivity, and smartphones to attend the classes.  Many families lost their means of livelihood in this pandemic forcing them to make a brutal choice between child’s hunger and child’s education.

To understand the havoc of Covid-19 pandemic upon education, one can analyse the situation class-wise.

  • Pre-school- Online teaching has deprived these students of a playful classroom environment. Learning is primarily a social activity and small children are unable to comprehend anything taught online . They are missing out on the valuable experience of getting up early, going to school, making friends, playing and just enjoying their life.
  • Primary school- Here also the children are stuck to their laptops , smartphones for hours . Since they lack a structured environment they get easily distracted . They lack concentration and lag behind in learning things.
  • Secondary- They suffer the most . They are in their prime both in terms of academics and development.  They get easily distracted and spend most of their time playing games and chatting with friends . Even when exams take place they pass taking help of their books, internet and friends. Most of them don’t take online classes seriously and hardly understand anything .
  • University- Some colleges across India never opened . The students are cooped up in their homes missing out on all the college experience. They give open book exams and just copy paste things from the internet. The seriousness, anxiety about exams has vanished . The students who need to do practicals like in engineering study 3D representation of things which creates a vacuum in their learning.

This was about limitations of online teaching class wise . However there are many other limitations: 

Technical difficulties like network problems interrupt the class.

Most children lack a conducive environment at home , making them give up their studies, lack concentration etc.

In India government schools provide mid day meals to the students. With the schools closed they miss out on a nutritious meal and it is known that some of the children used to have only that proper meal in their entire day. Some girls are even forced to give up their studies and household duties are thrusted upon them . 

It has also been found that for some children school was a safe haven away from their unstable families . But online teaching has disrupted this, they can’t feel the same warmth on a virtual platform nor can they escape the tensions of their homes . Their conditions become all the more deplorable. 

Not just students but  parents too have become overburdened as now they have to manage their offices and also have to become an equal participant in their child’s education. 

The teachers too face a lot of problem because many of them are not tech-savvy and due ot pandemic they had to start afresh and educate themselves about the new digital platforms. 

Having understood some of the limitations of online teaching , some ways to improve the situation could be:

  • Making rural areas , remotest corners of the country well equipped with better network and connectivity. 
  • Providing smartphones, laptops to students so that they don’t lag behind.
  • Parents must guide their children that they should pay attention to their online classes and gain the best out of it. 
  • Students must understand it is not new normal, but it is the normal. 
  • Teachers must be trained to use the different digital platforms .
  • Adequate arrangements must be made to impart quality education even in these trying times .

Covid-19 pandemic is a test for India . But in these times of crisis one must look for opportunity. Adequate steps should be taken to provide quality education to everyone and to lessen the growing digital divide in India.