Schools in Mumbai to Remain Shut

The Pandemic and Its Impact on Education

The Pandemic: Mammoth challenge for educational institutions all around the world

The Pandemic caused by the Novel Corona Virus has crippled the productivity of many sectors. The Education sector happens to be on of the biggest victims of the pandemic. With strict social distancing norms and strict rules to stay indoors unless it is very essential, educational institutions have kept their classrooms shut. The only alternative that was fee-sable for most countries was online education and learning. Students have been attending online lectures and have been completing their assignments from home.

With the prospect of schools reopening around the world, we will soon see the mass spread impact the pandemic has had on the world. To focus solely on India:

  • The academic year has suffered a severe cut down in classes. Due to this lack of classes most educational boards have decided to cut down a massive chunk of the portion. Students will have to compromise on their syllabus this academic year and will miss out on learning some important topics.
  • Physical education and activities have been on a complete halt. Although most schools are encouraging their students to exercise at home and stay fit.
  • The lack of social interaction has caused many students to face some severe mental health problems as well. This is a sensitive topic because mental health care in India is often neglected. With the pandemic causing such havoc, many schools have improved their in-house counselling facilities

The lockdown has allowed many students to indulge in activities they would have never tried otherwise. We spoke to a few students.

“Personally, academic productivity has gone down drastically. Can’t believe that before the pandemic I was able to read books, make notes and study for hours. Now I find it really difficult to motivate myself and get work done. Hell, I’ve started to procrastinate watching a movie also. Just attending lectures in front of a screen makes me feel exhausted.I find it very difficult to sit in front of the same screen and work on an assignment or something” said one of them.

The changes we will witness immediately

Although most changes will be very gradual to reflect their impact, here are a few changes that will be strikingly evident.

  • The Biggest change most schools will witness is the mass spread digitization of education. Throughout the pandemic students have been learning online through a digital medium.  Assignments and exams were submitted and conducted online respectively. This is going to make most Indian schools relatively E-friendly. The much needed digital transition will now experience a fast track procedure.
  • Schools will focus more on sanitation and hygiene. The states that have allowed schools to reopen have already declared a list of rules and guidelines that must be followed.
  • Making learning equitable, convenient, lifelong and accessible. Many people, not necessarily students, have enrolled for new courses during the lockdown. The fact that you don’t need to travel or need to be in a classroom has democratized learning and made it convenient.
  • Personalization of learning. Each student has his/her own pace of studying. While some may need more time others may need more material to achieve the same outcome. Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence coupled with strong data analytics can help customize individual learning paths at scale.
Students and the impact on their Mental Health during the pandemic

Mental Health care is considered to be a taboo in India. This pandemic however has shown us the horrors of what we could be looking at if we ignore mental health care. Students all over the globe are battling with several stressors throughout different points of the pandemic. Students are now focusing and pressuring schools and colleges to take into consideration their mental health.

Mental health, a word heard of but not understood by most is merely a statistic for many showing the declining quality of mental health, specially for those who had planned out the next few years of their lives in a rather Utopian manner. Everything was put on a hold due to corona-virus, which disrupted this Utopian schedule and threw plans, including exams which create enough stress by themselves, off track. With a myriad of factors leading to a lot of changes for students, individuals who are yet learning about the real world, along with cases of covid in their families and the need for a device to cope with the new normal online classes has led to an increase in cases of depression, anxiety. Moreover students fuel the economy of restaurants, shops, bars and hang out places which they were no longer able to do. Being confined to four walls and left alone with their thoughts turned out to be worse than one could imagine.
A lot of students often have more than one personalities, one for their home, one for friends. Thus, being confined to their house and the inability to bunk lectures to “chill” in the canteen builds up stress.
Colleges and schools do much more than just deliver content and teach. The teachers’ ability to engage students in debate and discussion, to mentor and coach and to inspire and motivate is difficult to replicate in the online format. What is also difficult to replicate is peer learning, participation in extracurricular activities and sports, experiential learning and development of emotional quotient and leadership ability. While schools and colleges the way we know them are here to stay, the way learning happens and the way teachers teach is sure to change.
The impact has been more severe for disadvantaged children leading to interrupted learning, compromised nutrition, childcare problems and consequent economic cost to families who cannot work. Another challenge is to ensure that students return and stay in school when schools reopen. This is especially true of protracted closures and when economic shocks place pressure on children to work and generate income for financially distressed families.
The Pandemic has wreaked havoc in the life of many students and has given the opportunity to acquire new skills to some. Educational institutions should be prepared to support the holistic growth of all their students.

About Pranav Nambiar

Pranav Nambiar,a BA Literature graduate has worked as a school and college level sports journalist and commentator for tournaments such as the Reliance youth foundation and Next Generation Cup hosted by the English Premiere league. Nambiar has also written and acted in several theatrical productions and has hosted countless college and corporate events across India with companies like HBO and Star Movies.

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