Learning Must Continue
It has been almost two years since the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the education sector, leaving parents worried, children frustrated and educational institutions sandwiched between people’s expectations and new harsh realities. Resumption of classroom learning has been an ‘on again and off again’ affair since last year, relying completely on the pandemic situation. Left with no option, schools and colleges had to go for virtual teaching in order to mitigate the learning loss despite hordes of limitations like slow internet connection and digital divide. It is clear by now that virtual learning is not viable in hill stations like the Northeast as poor internet connectivity plagues the region and many students from economically weak families can’t afford to buy smartphones. The recent protest by college students in several states, including Nagaland, demanding the universities to conduct examinations in online mode, in a way exposed that ‘online teaching’ might not be as effective as some might have thought. Putting the rationality of their demands aside, hitting the streets for ‘online exams’ sent out the message that students were low on confidence to take exams inside the classrooms. This leads us to the possibility of students misusing the freedom they get at their homes unlike in classrooms where they are under the constant watch of their teachers or they are still yet to adapt to the new way of learning. If students face these issues, active involvement of parents and guardians can help them get back on track.
However, many parents, especially in states like Nagaland, don’t monitor if their children are actually attending online class. Most students are left to their own. This has to change as online learning is likely to stay till the ongoing pandemic is eradicated or a cure is found. The rapid spread of Omicron, the new variant of concern, could force schools and colleges to shut its gates again. The task of learning should not be left completely to the educational institutions and individuals as teachers can’t monitor their students effectively online. Parents should step in to in fill this gap, at least till they are used to virtual learning, to ensure that their children receive quality education. Failing to take up this vital responsibility can lead to increase in dropouts, unemployment and several other social issues. So, all efforts should be made to mitigate learning loss both by educational institutions, students and parents. The Centre and state governments too should improve online infrastructure, especially in remote areas and make sure that not a single student is deprived of education due to lack of basic facilities like the internet. For learning can’t stop and everybody should be taken along.