COVID-19 and Education

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By: Zahoor Ahmad Lone


In March 2020 schools in Jammu and Kashmir UT were closed due to COVID-19 pandemic .It was necessary for the safety of students. The closure of schools kept away the students from offline mode of education. In Kashmir students have remained away from the classes for the last 2 ½ years. During the closure of schools, the School Education Department took a number of initiatives to reach the students so that students do not remain away from the education. The first step taken by the government was zoom classes. It was a new initiative both for students as well as for the teachers because both were first time going through the zoom classes. Initially teachers as well as students faced a number of difficulties in this teaching learning process but with the passage of time both overcame the difficulties. The zoom classes did not remain fruitful for primary and upper primary classes. There were a number of factors responsible for failure for this category of students. Firstly students did not have their own smartphones and were completely dependent on their parent’s smart phones. Secondly, a number of parents didn’t have smartphones .

Thirdly there were some areas where there was no network coverage and the students of these areas were not able to get the benefit of online education . Those students whose parents had smartphones too had to face problems in online education because their parents remained away from the home during the day time. Teachers too were not able to deliver their classes as per time table because they had to deliver their classes either early in the morning or evening keeping in view the availability of parents at home. In short, zoom classes proved futile for primary and middle classes. These classes proved fruitful for 10 th ,11 th ,12 th and other higher classes to some extent. Then the education department came up with a new concept in June 2020 by the name of Learning Management System (LMS) .Under this initiative all the students of an institution and teachers were registered on the LMS portal by the Head of the Institution. The teachers were uploading their videos, study material and assignments of their respective subjects on LMS on a daily basis and students were going through the study material any time. In this initiative students were not bound to time .

They were free to go through the study material uploaded by their teachers any time . This step also was not so beneficial for the students. Also teachers tried their best to reach their students through other means like WhatsApp and voice calling. All these modes of online education were not result oriented. There was a lack of interest among students in online education. Most of the students were indulging in other activities during online learning by keeping the camera of their mobile phone off. Online education led mental and physical health issues for both students and teachers. The concentration level of students dropped during online learning. The pressure to concentrate resulted in stress and anxiety among students.

 

Also Read : Covid-19: Out Of Work

 

The online education increased the strain on the eyes and resulted in headaches. This problem was faced both by students as well as teachers. In the last months of the academic year of 2020 the government came up with a concept of Community Classes. Under this concept local teachers or volunteers were allowed to conduct the offline classes in their locality in open air. These classes were conducted in an open field. In community classes all the teachers whether government or private living in a locality were allowed to impart education to students .Even educated youth voluntarily participated in these community classes. There was no bar for students either. Any local student whether from government or private institutions were getting education in community classes.

The community classes were not conducted in those localities where open fields were not available, especially in Urban areas. Some great teachers offered their big courtyards for this purpose. All the SOPs of COVID 19 were strictly followed in these classes. Teachers or volunteers took this initiative with great enthusiasm. Students too were enthusiastic because they had got bored of online classes and continuous closure of schools. They were eager to see their classmates and teachers. This initiative was to some extent result oriented especially in remote areas . This initiative had some demerits as it was volunteer both for teachers and students.

 

There was no accountability in these classes. But still this was very helpful for students. Despite various initiatives taken by the government to impart education to students during the pandemic ,they had suffered a lot from the last three years . It has resulted in learning gaps in all categories of students. This winter government again took good steps to overcome the learning gaps of the students by opening winter camps/winter tutorials. The main purpose of this initiative was remedial teaching so that learning gaps of the students are minimized. Students were enthusiastic to see themselves in schools again and there was an excellent response both from the students as well as parents .But unfortunately after attending few days in these camps, these winter camps / tutorials are being closed again due to the start of third wave of COVID-19 and students are again in trauma. In nutshell, in these years of COVID-19 education was most hit and students had developed learning gaps in them which will take a lot of time to overcome these learning gaps. As per experts one year of remaining away from education takes a child three years back. Pray to Almighty Allah that this third wave may end quickly and our schools may function normally after winter vacations.

Author is a teacher. He can be mailed at zahoorlone1979@gmail.com

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