The pandemic – COVID 19 came suddenly as all pandemics do and managed to wreak havoc across the world. Not only it affected the healthcare systems, tourism, economy, but also the education system everywhere.
There have been earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis and famines in the world before, but none had been so devastating for every field in almost every country.
According to the data published by UNESCO on 25th May 2020, 1,186,127,211 learners have been affected around the world due to the nationwide closures of educational systems in 144 countries (which includes India) and localized closures in some other countries such as the US. In India alone, 320 million students have been impacted due to school closures.
Digital education: The government in India and most other countries decided to move to digital education during the indefinite period of closure of educational institutions across the nation. UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) has also been very active in helping especially the disadvantaged countries in their efforts to continue education by promoting remote learning.
However, the irony of India is that it is certainly not a “disadvantaged” country, and yet the 75th Report of the National Sample Survey for 2017-18 suggests that only 23.8% of Indian households have internet access, and the number is even lower for the rural population.
Luckily, many ed-tech firms have sped up their efforts to ensure the reach of education in these trying times among the students.
MOOCs or massive open online courses were gaining popularity even before the pre-COVID era, with USA and India being the top two consumers of MOOCs. MOOCs have brought about an education revolution in the digital era by bringing knowledge within reach of one and all.
There is an ever-increasing number of e-learning platforms across the internet for those who seek education through remote means. It is convenient, cost-effective, and time-saving. Digital education is becoming the trend and has gained acceptance by everyone, especially after the widespread epidemic.
The greatest challenge with “going remote” in the school education post-COVID has been the unpreparedness of the faculty, the students, and the parents from an emotional, infrastructural, and curriculum perspective. With time, these challenges are being solved, and remote learning is gaining widespread acceptance.
If we look at the institutions for higher education, such as BML Munjal itself, the above challenges are non-existent. Infrastructurally and curriculum wise, BMU is well prepared to shift between the classroom and digital learning methods any given day.
There are pros and cons of both digitals as well as classroom learning. Even though digital learning is considered to be more impersonal than classroom learning, one of it’s biggest advantage is the convenience of it. This is why it is getting large scale acceptance and is the future of imparting education.
Examinations: When the pandemic struck, it took a toll on the entire fraternity of education, including the examinations. Most of the school and college examinations were postponed or were canceled due to the widespread of this highly contagious virus.
Momentarily, things looked stalled, and it looked as if the world has come to a standstill, however with time, people have learned to accept to live with the virus. Experts suggest that the condition of the pandemic would peak in June and July in India.
Although daycares, schools, and colleges were closed immediately, with the removal of the phased lockdown, slowly, schools have started opening up in different places across the country amidst fear in the minds of people.
Important examinations, such as the CBSE examinations for the 10th and the 12th, which couldn’t be conducted completely during the month of March due to the increasing number of cases, are being scheduled for July.
According to the directions provided by the WHO and the health ministry, students will be required to wear masks and sanitize their hands frequently (wearing gloves is not a mandate as it makes writing difficult).
Online examinations are not possible at this level, and even if it could be online, they can certainly not be taken from the home. Given this situation, there will always be a concern about the existing system not being sufficient to combat the effect of a contagious virus from spreading even in the future.
Hygiene in educational institutions:
Although the purpose is different, and educational institution needs as much (perhaps even more) sanitizing efforts as is spent in hotels.
The hotels follow strict cleanliness norms, and they are required to do so as they serve so many different visitors throughout the day, round the calendar. Schools, colleges, and universities to receive students, faculty, guests, visitors from different places every day, throughout the year.
Schools and such centers of learning can actually become the breeding ground of several contagious diseases and risk young lives if they aren’t sanitized properly. Influenza, which is not considered so risky anymore, spreads from one person to another, just like the coronavirus and students falling sick all at once is not unheard of.
With adequate measures to follow social distancing, spreading awareness, and disciplining regarding self-quarantine, it is possible to avoid such things from happening.
Post the COVID attack, and the CBSE board has suggested that at least 20 hours of the gap will be maintained between each examination in a particular center to allow time for proper sanitizing the area.
In addition to this, instead of placing 24 students in the same class for writing their papers, the rooms will be filled only to half its capacity to ensure adequate social distancing.
In BML Munjal, we believe that the health of a student plays a critical role in their development. With this objective in mind, it is the utmost priority of the college authorities to ensure all necessary measures are taken to maintain sanitary conditions within the premises of the University and hostels on a regular basis.
In fact forward, this will be a basic requirement to be followed in all schools and colleges or other educational institutions to ensure the health safety aspect of each student.
Since time immemorial, epidemics have been occurring at periodic intervals on earth, wiping out people, animals, and sometimes even civilizations at large. And as per the Darwinism, the strongest have lived and moved forward with learnings from their experience.
The world has advanced a lot more in the last 100 years than it has over the past thousands of years of its existence. However, with the advancement of the human race, other creatures, including the viruses, have become more complex and have evolved too. COVID 19 is the best example of that.
There is one and only one way to keep oneself and others in society safe, and that is through maintaining hygienic conditions, safe distancing, and internalizing healthy habits.
With the advent of the corona, among the many things that got impacted – education is an important one. Delay, restlessness, uncertainty, loss of a year are the many fallouts of this situation.
As long as the students have been able to retain their health in these difficult times, none of it really matters for long.
So, instead of focusing on the negative aspects, we should highlight the positives that came out of it: i) Digital education gaining acceptance can now be used to reach further into all echelons of society where classrooms may have failed. ii) Examinations are undoubtedly important, but they do not surpass a student’s life or health. iii) Educational institutions need as much sanitizing as the hotel industry or the medical facilities do.
While we do hope that the world recovers from the virus soon, we also believe firmly that the lessons learned will be the biggest takeaways for the present and the future generations.