IMPACT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON SCHOOL EDUCATION

Covid-19 has moved like wildfire — at first seemingly far away, then unnervingly close — as it has ripped across the world in a few months, leaving tens of thousands dead, economies flattened, and the futures of hundreds of millions of people in limbo. As many of us shelter in place with no end in sight, it’s only human for us to imagine how life will resume, even if the unfamiliar and unpredictable behavior of the virus has made it difficult to know with any certainty. For many, the doldrums of quarantine are now giving way to post-isolation fantasies, as people pledge to spend more time with family and friends, or finally book that bucket-list trip. But even the smallest and sweetest of goals — getting a haircut, giving a hug, or going to school — could feel like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro when we’re free.But just so we have clarity in judging how much Covid-19 has and will impact school education, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments.  
In the lieu of these uncertain times, for school going students, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) has definitely transitioned into FOGO (Fear Of Going Out). In these times, there are three very evident and influential indicators of Coronavirus impacting school education. We cannot forget that it is a hierearchical structure which roots out from its students and goes up to the highest authority of the 'Board'.  
Firstly, the pandemic of this sort brings to the fore the class lines along which the Indian society is organised and any pretensions as to the alleviation of the deep persavive inequality among economic lines is completely torn to shreds. In such a scenario, while the relatively priveleged classes of students mostly living in cities have turned towards a host of mobile applications and websites to continue their classes, a large section - perhaps tthe dominant section of students of the country who rely on subsidised and assisted education have seen their classes come to a screeching halt. The infrastructure to equip all students with internet connections and devices on 
which they can "attend" such classes is expensive and looks like monumental task in the face of the lockdown under which we are living. Moreover, given that parents residing in villages are anyway skeptic about formal education, a break like this threatens to erode the trust such families repose on the education system itself and thereby threatens to add to the already deeply entrnched barriers to education children face on a regular basis even afte the pandemic is brought under control. 
However, this has suddenly put to test the practice of online disemmination of knowledge - something that the central govenment has been experimenting with since 2018 albeit on a much smaller scale. This has created a fresh discourse on the issue of distant learning and online modules of subjects and there is much contemplation on this subject starting from the central governments to various state governments and even school. The experiance and experiments of online learning during this phase would prove to be invaluable in developing more secure softwares and more relevant subject modules to make widespread online classes and learning a practical reality rather than a theoritical proposition. Such a development would directly benefit economically weaker sections of the society who often do not have access to quality education due to understaffed schools or lack of political and social will at the local level to ensure the smooth functioning of schools. Moreover in a world order where there is  no absolute end to this pandemic in sight and further given the havoc cliamte change threatens to wreck in the future, it would serve schools and administration at all levels to come up with a detailed online curriculam and structure to have classes and promote such distant learning. Overall, a massive drive towards online education would make education more accessible to the weaker sections of the society and bring newer sections of the society like specially abled students into the fold of education system of the country. 
The lockdown has given rise to a situation where the substantial chunk of information regarding classes and course material is being shared via WhatsApp groups, e-mails and text messages and most classes are being on an online portal. This has resulted in a  large scale involvement of parents in the education of their children as students who are too young to have their own electronic devices and/or online accounts directly depend on their parents for successful and meaningful participation in classes. Perhaps for the first time in the history of Indian education, parents have been thrust into monitoring the minute details of regular classes being attended (or not) by their children which is in sharp contrast with the otherwise indifferent attitudes a lot of parents adopt towards the day to day progress of their children and the course material being taugh to them. This is mainly lieu of the substantial amount of time such students spend in schools away from schools. This promises two major changes in the schoold education system. Firstly, each student's behaviour and progress is under keen and individual observation of their parents - something that is impossible in a classroom setting where ofen a single teacher has to tend to the needs of the entire class thereby depleting the amount of individual atention the teacher can give to students. This promises to create more responsible students and better bonds between parents and children. Moreover, this active involvement promises to create a situaton where parents are updated as to the curriculam being taught to their children on a detailed basis 
and thereby promises to create a situation where parents can act as a much needed check on outdated material which are often taught to children. 
 
ESHAN BANNERJIE  
Class : 11 (Humanities)
Birla High School 
Secured 2nd Position (GROUP - I) in ' E-Competition on Creativity' organized by Techno India Group.

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