Pandemic and Academics

Mir Muhammad NayyarAzam

The recent pandemic caused by COVID 19 has hardly left any field of life undisturbed and unaffected. The entire world seems to have come to a standstill despite the degree of technological advancement and availability of resources .The world has witnessed a huge slowdown in economy and every one seems to be undone and helpless amid this chaos.

            Academics which had touched heights due to technological intervention and knowledge explosion too have faced the brunt.

            Educational systems throughout the world have almost been disrupted leading to the closure of schools and other educational institutions consequently about 1.7 billion learners have suffered loss due to this pandemic.

            Social distancing seeming to be an effective way to contain the spread of this deadly virus is very difficult to be maintained in educational institutions if left to work as normal or even on roaster basis, thereby leaving no option than to switch over to e-learning, where instructions are imparted remotely on digital platforms .This therefore is an herculean task as we know that no book can replace a teacher and no method can replace actual classroom environment. The real class room environment seem to be the most effective agency of social change without which the education in true sense is meaningless . Closure of schools has many social and economic consequences which are more severe for the most vulnerable and marginalized boys and girls and their families. When schools being the hub of social activity and human interaction are closed, many children miss the opportunity of social contact that forms the basis of learning and over all development .The effort of different agencies for universalisation of education are likely to have reduced effectiveness as prolonged closure of schools and pressure on children to generate income in financially poor families may lead to increased dropout rates .

            Authorities at the helm of affairs have been trying to explore alternate ways and means to safeguard the precious time and Academic carrier of students which is the future and fate of a nation.

            Students likewise are putting their hard efforts to use every single possible technological gizmo to keep themselves busy in steps to complete the course contents and curricula through various trendy sources .The possibility of self study from rare books, available only in libraries, which had already been declining over the years has become impossible due to the closure of libraries making the students solely dependent on internet.

            With a nationwide shutdown in place, actual classes are unlikely to restart in the coming days. To do away with the further deterioration, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has been continually directing all academic institutions to teach students through online classes , making several platforms accessible to aid the exercise. From school going students to doctoral scholars, all are trying their level best to shift to online means amid the lockdown.

            Thus online classes sound helping our educational institutions pummel the Covid-19 lockdown . But the trend has heightened many concerns among educational professionals, expressing worry about the vulnerability of youngsters to the side effects of internet, others claim that this online shift would estrange students lacking such facilities.

            In their report ,UNESCO noted, “Half of the total number of learners ,kept out of the classroom by the pandemic, do not have proper access to a household computer and some among  have no internet at home, at a time when  e-learning seems to be the only way out. For children not in a position to pay the charges for fee, uniform and are put in schools to avail the opportunity of mid day meals, the possession of an android phone or other electronic gadgets seems to be incompatible with their social status.

            No doubt this methodology seems to prove promising by way of providing the learners audio and video facilities, yet no technology can replace the actual classrooms and teacher student contact in real. Despite having multiple leverages, online classes are highly subjected to network issues and disconnections. Due to lack of physical monitoring by teachers, catching the attention of students becomes a highly difficult task.

            Students with a good internet connection find it easy to join in for the classes but those who are from far flung rural areas, lacking adequate internet facility, are unable to do so. Moreover, the teenage learners once provided with Android and internet facilities will be lured towards some unproductive activities which may put to risk their carrier for being overwhelmingly busy with these gadgets and internet surfing, as is being felt by educational experts world over .

            The alternative methods adopted by the authorities in the prevailing situation are inevitable in the present scenario but the fact remains that they could never replace the teacher and his presence with the students which guides the pupils in more than one way to help mould their overall personality.

            These are the real challenges that hinder the process of online learning and for that we should always appreciate the importance of teacher pupil relationship in the process of education and find out any way out to ensure this contact in its traditional way and strive and pray for its revival while adhering to all the do’s and do not’s of the protocol prescribed by the concerned experts.

Writter Mir Muhammad NayyarAzam

(Persuing Masters in Economy at SMVDU Katra)