EDUCATION DURING COVID
Coronavirus pandemic has obstructed many spheres of our lives in 2020. One of the most
crucial aspects of our life is education, for what are we if not educated? Education not only
in India but in all of the world has suffered greatly as the lockdown proceeded. Around 32
crore learners stopped to move schools/colleges, all educational activities halted in India.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has advised us that change is inevitable. It has worked as a
catalyst for the educational institutions to grow and opt for platforms and techniques, which
have not been used before. A lot of educational institutions have started using online
platforms for education but that too cannot help everyone. This paper highlights some
measures taken by Govt. of India and state government of Jharkhand to provide seamless
education in the country, effect of COVID-19 in the lives of students and teachers. Both the
positive and negative impacts of COVID-19 are discussed and some fruitful suggestions are
pointed to carry out educational activities during the pandemic situation.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused severe affects worldwide. WHO announced COVID-19
outbreak as a pandemic on 11 March 2020? At the close of 2019, the WHO China Country Office
was informed of a pneumonia of unknown cause, detected in the city of Wuhan in Hubei
province, China. According to the authorities, some patients were operating dealers or vendors
in the Huanan Seafood market. Staying in close contact with national authorities, WHO began
monitoring the situation and requested further information on the laboratory tests performed
and the different diagnoses considered. And thereafter begun the tragedy of the novel
coronavirus. On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced an official name
for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. The new name of this
disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for
‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel
coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV.” India ignored the warning signs when the first few cases surfaced
in Kerala and didn’t screen all the international passengers up until March 6. ICMR didn’t test
people with COVID-19 symptoms without a recent travel history and a known contact that might
have transmitted them the virus, up until March 20. The government’s official line for the public
as late as March 13 was that the coronavirus was not a health emergency. These delays led us
our to our present-day coronavirus status. India’s first novel coronavirus patient – a student
studying at Wuhan University – was reported in Kerala’s Thrissur district, as more than 7500
cases were reported in 20 countries of the world. This was reported on 30th of January 2020.
Woods of Unprepared Lockdown:
The first national containment measure in the form of a nationwide lockdown was only introduced on March 25, three months after the first COVID-19 case was reported and two months after the WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. This announcement was not preceded by any official planning, leading to the large-scale movement of the urban poor as they headed for their homes in rural areas. The effect of lockdown has been harsh on the students. Most of government schools are suspended since March 25, 2020. Classes have not been going on but many students have to pay the fees to give the examinations. A whole academic year of students is at risk. Many institutions are going for online means for conducting classes and interacting with students. While this had been a good step for urban students with good internet access but the rural students will be lagging again. Children in the poorest countries have lost nearly four months of schooling since start of pandemic – UNESCO, UNICEF and World Bank report finds. “The pandemic will notch up the funding gap for education in low and middle-income countries. By making the right investment choices now, rather than waiting, this gap could be significantly reduced,” said Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education.
Steps by Government of India for better education:
The New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 released by the Education Ministry has emphasized on the growing need of online education in India. Since the whole world is going through a pandemic, it has become imperative that we should be ready with some alternative mode of education and this is where online education has come into the picture. The New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is designed to maximize the benefits of digital and online education in India while mitigating the downsides. The new education policy has come with some initiatives comprising Pilot studies and installation of virtual labs. The online education space in India has been catching up for a few decades now. But it has been largely used for skilling and is buoyed by self-learning. Schools and colleges have rarely had to teach solely online unlike post-March 2020 when coronavirus changed the education paradigm and everyone, irrespective of their exposure to learning online, have had to adapt and learn. Changes in the Online Education System as per the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The New Education Policy (NEP) has recommended some key initiatives listed below.
Pilot Studies for Digital/ Online Education:
Some of the educational institutions and universities such as NIOS, NITs, IGNOU, CIET and NETF will be asked to conduct some research for the objective of maximizing the benefits of digital learning in India. The research and pilot studies will include finding the most preferred format of E-content and decreasing the risk of student device addiction.
Online Teaching Tools and Methods:
The existing e-learning platforms such as DIKSHA and SWAYAM will be extended to provide teachers with a user-friendly and well-structured environment. These platforms will be updated with some set of tools such as two-way audio interface and two-way video that can help the teachers to conduct online classing and monitor the progress of students.
The new education policy will include some investment in the creation of public digital and interoperable infrastructure that can be utilized by multiple platforms. This new digital infrastructure will be created by keeping in mind that the technology-based solutions provided through it do not become outdated with time and if so can be updated with ease.
Training for Teachers:
Teachers will be trained to use online learning tools and platforms. Besides this, they will also be trained with additional skills so that they can manage the online platform themselves. The training will emphasis on improving the teacher-student engagement through the online content and resources. The training will aim to make the teaching and learning process interactive.
Some digital platforms such as SWAYAM, SWAYAMPRABHA and DIKSHA will be asked to create some virtual labs where students can practice their theoretical knowledge. These labs will be fully equipped with all tools for improving the hands-on experiment-based learning experiences of the students. Apart from this, access will be provided to the SEDG students and teachers so that they can learn through the tablet or any other electronic gadget. A more practical approach towards education is expected to take roots in Indian education system. Despite these planning’s for better education India is still lagging.
Potholes in Path of Better Education:
In urban parts of the country, students are more or less at least trying to cover their education by the means of online platforms like zoom and Google meet. But this too have disadvantages. We have to admit that however worse or mild a calamity is the underprivileged sections of our society are affected the most. The COVID-19 shutdown has affected this opportunity for the poor even harder than their counterparts from well-to-do sections of society. The government started making plans for students with no online access only by the end of August. The plans themselves were the usual glib talk always served to the poor. These plans assume semi-literate or illiterate parents teaching children, community involvement, mobile pools, and so on. Anyone with an understanding of rural India will immediately understand these to be out of reality. As a result, whatever online or digital education is available is for students with only online access. Thus, digital India may become even more unequal and divided than it already is. Apart from this, online education has also affected the health of students. Due to the long, continuous screen times, students are suffering from headaches, eyestrain, dryness and irritation in the eyes, etc. Students who are already suffering from problems like migraine, etc. are affected the most. Tuition fees is also a big concern now. Parents are struggling to pay the fees as they are hit big by lockdown. It is understandable when institutions providing proper online classes are charging but there have been many cases where institutions which lack technical support for conducting online classes are asking for fees. No education is being provided but students have to pay because however open our society pretends to be, we need the certificate and degrees.
The pandemic has affected us all very harshly but we have to stand again and fight. If we have the will for it we can find many solutions for better education. We can learn from our failure in Aakash Tablet Government scheme. This scheme promised to provide students with low cost tablet in India. This didn’t reach to many students and who had the opportunity to get the Aakash tablet shared that the tablet was of worse quality. But now we can do better, with “Make in India” government can provide students with quality gadgets. Online education is the need of hour. Apart from this, as the unlock process is unfolding, college students should volunteer to teach rural children. Rural India comprises a vast part of us and it must be given proper education. In online education teachers must at least try to collaborate and interact with students. Rural people must be given trainings on how to operate digital devices and latest technologies.
The year 2020 has taught us lessons, otherwise we might not have learnt. It has many negative effects but we must find the ray of hope. We should try to not only give fair and equal education opportunities to all but
also create employment through online mode. Digital interaction must be familiarized among students. New policies should be made, keeping in mind that this pandemic can last longer than expected or strike us with a second wave. We also must be ready for such calamities in future.
[ Member ]