COVID’S NEW CHALLENGE TO LEARNING – Krishna Mohan K.S [email protected]

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The education system in India over a period of time, drifted from knowledge based to marks based system. This has driven the parents to push their wards into the rat race robbing their childhood joys. This led to the emergence of the so called corporate educational institutions fleecing money from the eager parents. Overcrowded classrooms, unhygienic washrooms, poorly ventilated hostels, no playgrounds became the order of the day.

Parents now aware of children’s Hidden talents

Thanks to the Covid19 norms, all these came to a grinding halt. Many parents realized that their children would not be safe in packed classrooms and hostels. Since schools and colleges could not be reopened post summer vacation, all the students had a unique opportunity of enjoying the extended holidays at home with family as parents too were available due the lockdown. Many children started exhibiting their hidden talents which perhaps parents were not even aware of!

Exploration of Family Bonds

Some of them explored the online platforms to learn new skills. Many families explored the old and forgotten traditional indoor games which engaged and entertained the entire family. All these built the much needed family bonds which otherwise slowly vanished while children were either sent to corporate hostels right from childhood or sent to tuitions early in the morning and till late in the evening.

Comparison disturbs your Child

In the meanwhile, some overenthusiastic parents started pushing children to take various online courses irrespective of their interest and use. This once again led to undue pressures on many more students who were forced to take up similar online courses though reluctantly. The online classes introduced by some of the schools and colleges, soon overpowered the little joy of staying at home and having fun. Parents started comparing their wards’ online classes with others.

Beware of Digital Divide

This created a huge digital divide as a majority of the teachers and students are not geared up for the sudden onslaught of online classes. The managements of the institutions put tremendous pressure on teachers to prepare online content failing which their institution would be considered outdated! Majority of the teachers who are not even familiar with most of the features of a smart phone, are now stressed up in the competitive struggle of making presentations, video lessons indoors and outdoors, editing them, adding audio and video effects and adding virtual reality and augmented reality.

Imparting lessons in a completely online and impersonal manner is perhaps a first time experience to over 95% of the teaching community. On the other hand, students too are equally under pressure in deciphering what their teachers are trying to impart as they have never experienced learning from home under the watchful eyes of their parents which is certainly demanding. Connectivity issues with the broadband and mobile phone networks are like rubbing salt on the wound!

Connecting Issues

Perhaps it is time for all the bigwigs of the education departments at the national level to brainstorm and bring a sea change in the education system per se. This should not be done in a hurry and haste ofcourse! Yet, they should not miss the bus. Half this academic year 2020-21 is almost gone. Let this entire academic year be put on a moratorium!! Let the top academicians, scientists, industrialists, entrepreneurs and experts from various domains  share their thoughts on building a knowledge and skill based education system.

Renewed Learning experience -need of the hour

Let the entire curriculum be revamped with global standards to suit the current trends in industry, business and agriculture. In the meanwhile, let the students enjoy learning new skills of their choice through online or offline or mixed mode learning.  Let this year be a kind of sabbatical year for all the students giving them the much-needed freedom to think while imbibing values into them! This freedom would enhance their self-consciousness and bring in responsibility. Never again will the government get such an opportunity to restructure the education system in toto and creating the necessary infrastructure for a renewed learning experience!