Nagrik Dialogue

Education in the Covid times and beyond – a students perspective

While there is a great concern for the ever increasing Corona Virus cases and the chaos that prevails in the health sector in respect of tackling the deadly pandemic, it may sound out of place to talk about education and the impact the continued covid pandemic had  on the younger generation that is still at school.

is a 12th grader studying in DPS Mathura Road. His childhood was spent in Singapore where he attended DPS International School.

I recall that when the first wave of corona struck India last year in March 2020, a swift decision was taken to close all academic institutions and business establishments as the nationwide lockdown was clamped by the government of India. A move that was later widely appreciated to save the 1.3 billion people of the worlds largest democracy.

The teenagers like me and others  took it in the right spirit and our schools also made all out efforts to manage the massive disruption of the education sector by a smooth shift to online classes that helped us to complete our last academic session 2019-20.

The class of 2020 managed to come out cheerful with the hope for a bright future as they saw great opportunities for higher education in line with the new normal that the pandemic has resulted into. Not only here in India but all around the world.

However the academic session 2021 to which teenagers like me and many others at schools in India are struggling at the present and are  at a great loss now that our 12th exams have been indefinitely postponed.

The corona wave 2, besides causing a rapid upsurge of the infected cases and piling death counts  have once again forced us to think of life rather than livelihood or any other pursuit like education etc.

The impact of covid pandemic is truly devastating on education as a whole. Many of those of class 2020 who aspired for higher education in India and abroad have to satisfy themselves with spending their first year of education at the college or university sitting at home and attending online lectures. They are at a loss today as it is difficult to imagine a clear picture of the future of education that lies ahead in the age of great uncertainty caused by the corona virus.

Further, it is difficult to imagine the amount of stresses and the pressure of anxieties that the young India of my age is currently facing. This is all the more important as we have great dreams to be the new gen professionals who dreamt of  creating a new world of happiness, harmony and inclusive sustainable development.

Someone has to seriously evaluate the short term as well as the long term impact that such a pressure of mind shall have on the current generation of teenagers. Who knows how many of them have further suffered from the family trauma cause by loss of jobs or family businesses  of their parents or even the loss of life  inflicted by corona in their families. An in depth study in this regard shall bring out the hidden dimensions of psychological disorders that we need to manage in the coming years.  

Timely and effective initiatives would be needed to  help the young India to recover from such a traumatic disorder as the future of nation is decided by the mental and physical and psychological  health of its youth and young professionals who invest their intellectual and creative abilities to build the world of their dreams.

Teenagers like me are also deeply concerned about the future of millions of children of poor and low income family who do not have smartphones,  laptops and internet facilities at home to take advantage of online classes. They became the worst victims of the massive disaster that the education at school levels caused by Covid-19 and its continued apathy that continues.

So what we do to our millions of sisters and brothers to bring them in the mainstream of e-learning is a big question that the society and the policy makers need to answer. With education having been made a right of every citizen it would be wise to act fast to design policies to strengthen the digital infrastructure and making it affordable by those at the bottom of the pyramid of economic prosperity  keeping in mind the interest of the masses.

Returning to the concerns of my own class  of 2021,  I still wonder whether justice is being done to our own batch of 12th class of 2020-21. It is all the more intriguing that when we know that we have conducted the whole of school year 2020-21  in the  reputed institutions like DPS and also other private and  government schools around the country with online classes, what prevented the authorities  to conduct online examinations of our CBSE and state boards in time to allow us to graduate from our schools for further education or endeavours as we would have thought fit.

 One may argue that at a time when the fear of death is looming large during the second wave of corona would it be wise enough to ask for online examinations for those completing their 12th grade schooling. But then the lesson we all have to learn from the current pandemic is to confront the disaster and monumental challenges and yet continue with our prime activities like education, research and innovations and the business and corporate activity that is needed to put up a brave face even in the most challenging times in the human history in which we are at present.

I sincerely hope that the policy planners of education and those at the helm of affairs shall keep the interest of young India of paramount consideration before taking drastic decisions like putting us on the state of continued wait and watch as at present.

The Corona Virus has had a significant impact on education that  my generation has  received. I ask  myself “why did this had to happen to us?”  One day when everything was quite decent but from the next we had to stay in our homes for more than 3 months! . This further continued for almost a year. I was flabbergasted when I heard this. This is sheer injustice for a student like me. But Corona cares he’ll for any such emotions as it is  yet human nor perhaps known attributes like compassion and care. And of course the fear of Corona Virus was starting to build up at a rapid pace as the second wave became a reality.

But we still did not lose our hope and spirits even during the online clclasses. We found a way to inject some humour in the classroom, by joining classes with fake names just for fun and sending emojis in the chat box to cheer ourselves and our teachers who are a serious lot. It indeed resulted in creating a bit of  smile on the faces of both my fellow classmates and teachers. Well, these are the memories that we will take forth with us from these trying times.

My message to the class of 12th of 2020-21  is that human life rests on a great hope that  tomorrow would be brighter and thus we need to put in our best to create such a brighter and better tomorrow. Be cheerful and ride the corona wave and emerge out victorious as we the young India  can not afford to lose as future rest on our shoulders.

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Nagrik Dialogue is the face of Nagrik Foundation’s communication skills that comes in the form of a monthly magazine. It will work as a bridge for those working at the grass roots level and those who support them in any form and manner.