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Education amid Pandemic

Since the beginning of COVID-19, life has come to a stand still. From imposing lockdowns to night curfews, from travelling to work by metro to work from home, we can actually say that the world works in different ways.


But one thing which drastically changed was education. The whole of the education system (only the technology) went through a revamp. The education sector came to a standstill for about a month or so as the schools, colleges and universities were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The classes came to a stand still and the uncertainty was brewing up among students of all age groups. After a long break of around 2 months, finally classes began online, but only for the third year students in most of the universities.I myself was in 3rd year when the pandemic struck and University of Delhi had started online classes over apps like Google meet and Zoom. Although classes were going online but there was uncertainty over exams because the whole academic calendar got postponed by two months. Normally, in DU, courses are finished by April and exams are conducted in May. But after the pandemic struck in March, the online classes itself started in May. There were many discrepancies too in the online education system. For eg, the 1st year and the 2nd year students of the University of Delhi were promoted by one year without having to give the exams, but the 3rd year students had to give exams. The exams were to be conducted online. I couldn't understand the logic behind this because if the University has made some arrangements for conducting exams for 3rd year students, then surely they could've done the same arrangements for the 1st and 2nd year students too! 


Although the online education system made education easier, it was not easier for all. For example, for online education a smartphone or a laptop was a must for every student and a stable Internet connection. Now we know that a smartphone costs anywhere between 10 to 15 thousand and a laptop would cost around 40 to 50 thousand. Even the Mobile data packs, which give value for money, costs around Rs. 600. In Uttrakhand, a hilly state in North India, the Internet connection is not good. When it rains, it is difficult to find signal on your phone. It happened to me. I was attending my Political Science class and suddenly there was no internet network and I missed my lecture. 


Also, most students in DU don't belong to the middle class or upper middle class. My friend, Rohit, (name changed to protect privacy) didn't have the means to afford a smartphone and a good internet connection. He missed most of the lectures and for the exams he came to my house to download the question paper and to upload the answer sheets. 


Some would find online education significantly cheaper. Earlier, the students who were not from Delhi had to come to Delhi and stay in PGs and spend anywhere between one to ten thousand bucks per month on their living, which included rent, food, laundry, travel and other miscellaneous expenses.  But with the start of online education they were able to attend the lectures without attending the University. All you needed was a good internet connection and a smartphone. 


But the most important drawback of online classes was the lack of practical classes. Those students, who had taken professional courses like engineering, medical courses, and courses which require labs like chemistry, biology, physics, Mass Communication and others were missing out on labs. Student bodies from various universities started to protest against online education and demanded reopening of the Universities especially for those who required labs. 


It's been 2 years since the pandemic kicked in, political rallies are going on, Judiciary has been restored to normal or hybrid hearing, work from home is no more compulsory, but education from home has still been imposed. The Government along with the administration needs to work on this. If not for all, atleast they should conduct labs in offline mode for professional courses.

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Tags: #pandemic #covid #education #omicron


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