The COVID-19 pandemic has made the realisation globally that our current lifestyle is not working in our favour. It has shaken the very core of our perception that what passed for normalcy will not sustain in the future. This applies to our lifestyle, industries like travel & tourism, industries that are labour driven and even the education sector.
Some of the aforementioned industries have now ceased to exist. Even the education sector, to sustain in an environment like such, has to do some critical thinking and realise that now there’s a need for change. UNESCO says the number of students missing school globally due to COVID-19 is “unparalleled”, impacting almost 290 million worldwide.
There has been a substantial degree of change in the structure of schooling and learning including teaching, assessment methodologies etc. Only a handful of private schools in the top cities and tier 2 cities of a country like India have been able to quickly adapt to the changing landscape of this unexpected technological revolution.
While others struggle to absorb the knowledge imparted by schooling, some sections of students in the society have lost their privilege to a decent mid-day meal causing social and economic stress.
For a developing country like India, a large population of youth pursues higher education in foreign universities. Many such students have now been barred from leaving these countries. In the trends of the current scenario, there is estimated to be a significant decline in these enrolments.
Some other unprecedented issues that are expected to arise are:
- Interrupted Learning – Schooling provides students with essential learning, and when schools & colleges close down, students are deprived of growth and development. In cases of the underprivileged, this proved to be an even bigger disadvantage as they have very few options for studying.
- Loss of Nutrition – Many underprivileged students from the rural cluster, tier 2 & tier 3 regions rely on the free / discounted meals from the school. When the schools close down temporarily, the nutritional factor of these students gets compromised.
- Unfavourable Infrastructure – Inadequate access to the Internet is the biggest hurdle in online learning. For a bunch of students, access to technology & the Internet is not always easy. Not all families have a favourable infrastructure to accommodate the digital educational process. For such students, this robs them of the opportunity of learning at home.
- The rise in Dropouts – The lack of technology, Internet and access to the digital learning results in dropouts. It is a challenge for the schools, as well as the families, to motivate these sets of students to return to schools after they reopen.
- Social Isolation – Schools act as a hub for a student’s social activities. Now, with lesser human interaction, students are missing out on several sociabilities, which is necessary for their personality development and growth.
- Change in the Course of Learning – Needless to say, the ways of imparting education & curriculum will now change. Many aspects of school learning like resilience, adaptability, empathy, communication, creativity, emotional intelligence, etc. that were once considered fundamental to the whole schooling system have now taken a backseat to majorly accommodate the changes brought about by the lockdown.
- Utilising Innovative Methods of Teaching – Despite the complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown, it has forced us to take a leap of faith into changing our ways of teaching and learning. Approaches like integrated and experiential learning will empower the future of learning worldwide.
That said, the most significant improvement in any sector that we have seen in this lock-down is the ed-tech. It is one of those rare industries that has boomed in these pandemic times. With Covid-19 pandemic that has affected millions of students, ed-tech companies like Testbook have come forward to make e-learning not only accessible to every student but also affordable. One can enrol with Testbook by just paying a nominal fee of INR 299 (<$5) and get access to quality educational content as well as mock tests.
This will ensure that the learning gap of the students is remarkably reduced. Some states in India are also providing the students with internet data packs so that there is no hurdle in the educational system created by the lockdown.
In a time of crisis like such, a well-rounded and effective educational planning is required to help capacity building of the young minds. Additionally, there is also a requirement to provide a financial stimulus, to help the educational system primarily targeting the economically backward class of the students. A long term and an unplanned hiatus to the 12 years of a crucial educational system, for a student, is likely to shatter a lot of dreams and will be a disadvantage to the nation with a less educated workforce.
Learning means acquiring knowledge, and it doesn’t necessarily occur through the age old methods of chalk-talk. A multi-pronged approach is much needed to build a resilient education system to live through crises like these in the future. This pandemic will act as a catalyst to bring about the pending changes that we needed. The world may never go back to the way it was before Corona, but we can certainly hope the world embraces the positive changes it has brought along.