The effects of the pandemic are more severe than the economic and social conditions. The lockdown was implemented around the world, due to the current pandemic situation from the early months of 2020. The condition is more severe to the conditional and marginalized students, resulting in disruptions in the learning program. Generally, in this period students prepare and write their board exams (especially 10th and 12th).
As per UNESCO, the disruptions worsen within the education system but also in other aspects of their lives. These include: –
Interrupted learning: The development and growth opportunities are unequal among the students. Due to uncertainty, the return of normalcy in the academic term, restriction of movements, confusion of health-related information, and lack of concentration and focus.
Manu children and youth rely on free or discounted meals provided at schools for food and healthy nutrition. When schools close, nutrition is compromised.
Confusion and stress for teachers: When schools close, especially unexpectedly and for unknown durations, teachers are often unsure of their obligations and how to maintain connections with students to support learning. Transitions to distance learning platforms tend to be messy and frustrating, even in the best circumstances. In many contexts, school closures lead to layoffs or separations for teachers.
Parents unprepared for distance and home schooling: When schools close, parents are often asked to facilitate the learning of children at home and can struggle to perform this task. This is especially true for parents with limited education and resources.
Challenges creating, maintaining, and improving distance learning: Demand for distance learning skyrockets when schools close and often overwhelms existing portals to remote education. Moving learning from classrooms to homes at scale and in a hurry presents enormous challenges, both human and technical.
Gaps in childcare: In the absence of alternative options, working parents often leave children alone when schools close and this can lead to risky behaviours, including increased influence of peer pressure and substance abuse.
High economic costs: Working parents are more likely to miss work when schools close in order to take care of their children. This results in wage loss and tend to negatively impact productivity.
Unintended strain on health-care systems: Health care workers with children cannot easily attend work because of childcare obligations that result from school closures. This means that many medical professionals are not at the facilities where they are most needed during a health crisis.
Increased pressure on schools and school systems that remain open: Localized school closures place burdens on schools as governments and parents alike redirect children to schools that remain open.
Rise in dropout rates: It is a challenge to ensure children and youth return and stay in school when reopen after closures. This is especially true of protracted closures and when economic shocks place pressure on children to work and generate income for financially distressed families.
Increased exposure to violence and exploitation: When schools shut down, early marriages increase, more children are recruited into militias, sexual exploitation of girls and young women rises, teenage pregnancies become more common, and child labour grows.
Social isolation: Schools are hubs of social activity and human interaction. When schools close, many children and youth miss out of a social contract that is essential to learning and development.
Challenges measuring and validating learning: Calendared assessments, notably high-stakes examinations that determine administrator’s advancement to new education levels and institutions, are thrown into confusion when schools close. Strategies to postpone, skip or administer examinations at a distance raise serious concerns about fairness, especially when access to learning become variable. Disruption to assessments results in stress for students and their families and can trigger disengagement.
In India, the teachers and students are facing technological and pedagogical issues in rural areas. As per the Indian Express, A teacher at one of the colleges in Delhi University had been told to take online classes during the lockdown. Since he was stuck in his native village which has no broadband connection, he was forced to rely on a mobile hotspot a connect to Zoom for his lectures. The problem was that there was only one location in the house, a spot in the backyard next to the cattle shed, where there was reasonable mobile connectivity. So, he would conduct his classes from his backyard, until the day the transformer in his village conked off and there was no electricity for three days.
In this critical situation, Applications like zoom have lent a helping hand to teachers and students where it was possible for the students to continue their classes to an extent. But there are significant issues – technological, social, and pedagogical – which need to be thought and planned effectively.
The Niti Aayog, in its “Strategy for New India @75” report, highlighted the quality and reliability of the internet as a major bottleneck. It went on to point out that 55,000 villages in the country are without mobile network coverage.
As per India.com, The Sikkim government, has announced that schools and other educational institutes in the state will reopen on June 15, as there has no COVID-19 case reported.
Both government and private schools will resume classes 9 to 12 by complying with the government’s guidelines regarding COVID-19. However, nursery to class 8 will remain suspended until further order.
As per the Times of India, the Karnataka government may allow schools to reopen in August. The government has yet to decide whether teaching should be online or in classrooms or a mix of both.
I think our government should invest in public education and the promotion of an online model to handle the current situation.
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