Many nations are implementing various containment steps to slow down the spread of coronavirus. And it is not a secret that most of us are following these regulations not only because we respect and want to obey the government’s instructions, but also because we are scared to go out. Coronavirus is highly contagious and can spread from one person to another before any symptom is visible. We don’t want to endanger ourselves or our loved ones, and so we refrain from going anywhere that may turn out to be a crowded place.
Offices and institutions are scared that they may turn into virus hotspots and this fear is well-justified. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions are closing down and are turning to online platforms, in an attempt to keep everything running smoothly. A lot of uncertainty still persists, and we are left wondering about the impact of coronavirus on education.
Let’s talk about how education has been impacted so far.
Admissions and exams have been postponed throughout the country. Schools and colleges are facing hindrance in conducting exams and many have decided to cancel standardized testing. Many schools are even considering extending the academic year.
Professors are facing difficulty in changing their style of teaching as many institutions have opted for conducting classes online. Many of them are not tech-savvy in general and have to learn online tools in order to convert and upload learning material to new platforms.
Many colleges have various tests, group discussion, and personal interview as a part of their selection process. The majority of them are withholding the admission process leaving the students filled with uncertainty.
2. Dealing with remote learning
Teachers and students, both had to shift from classroom to remote learning, and nobody got enough time to embrace the transition. Their reliance on technology accelerated overnight with many left struggling to get used to it. The challenge of studying at home and dealing with stress while attempting to be productive can be really harsh for some of us.
According to federal data, just 14% of households with school-going children have internet access. Speaking exclusively of urban households, 85% of university students have access to the internet, but just 41% of them are likely to have internet access at home.
3. Can every family afford this shift?
For a low-income family, remote learning can act as a curse. For many such families rely on schools not only for education but also for mid-day meals. The idea of not being able to send their kids to school and relying on online classes instead raises some serious questions.
Is a phone or computer device available at home?
Does the family have an extra phone which can be used for study purpose?
If the family consists of more than one school-going child and both have classes at the same time, who gets to attend the class?
Is the family able to afford an extra data pack for the classes?
The digital divide is highly evident in India. A separate room or a peaceful environment is essential for a student to concentrate, but this is a luxury, not every family can afford.
The coronavirus crisis sprung upon us unexpectedly, but nobody knows how long it will last. The government should put in efforts to make remote learning equally beneficial for low-income families.
Despite all these challenges, nobody knows when we can resume learning the way we have been doing all our life. We need to learn to make the most of it.
For all we know, this could be an important step in learning to live in the world of corona.
- Ishani Singh