Since the increasing cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), every institution has been massively affected, leading to the galvanization of a global response. Where the unprecedented measures regarding following the norms of social distancing may have its vast benefits to mitigate the effects of a worldwide pandemic, it undoubtedly is affecting the efficiency and productivity of not only an individual but an entire organization, paving the way for the development of severe mental and physical complications. This will lead to consequences that would require immediate interventions and alternatives to maintain the normalcy in these hard times.
Most Governments across the globe have ordered the closure of educational institutions temporarily. These nationwide closures are affecting 72% of the world’s student population. According to UNESCO, the schools have been suspended in 188 countries, effecting 1-5 billion students approximately. There have been substantial closing in many places before in history, but not as widespread as we see today.
Education is a critical part of everyone’s development. It drives factors responsible for the advancement of mind, development of social skills, facilitation of learning, and unveiling new horizons. COVID 19 “stay at home” order has undoubtedly disrupted the academic calendar. Most of our educational institutions rely on the means which require the physical presence of the peers in a specified space and do not have any backup in case of a crisis. New and permanent systems must be developed and redesigned to meet the needs of the hour that has been so glaringly exposed now. For now, education has been resumed remotely with online teaching equipment. Applications like Microsoft Teams and Zoom have found their way into the devices of almost every single student.
Teachers must consider the fact that the impact of online education is variable for every student. They come from very different backgrounds, and there is a disparity in the provision of resources, opportunities, and support outside of school. This situation not only will cause a difference of knowledge attained but also create a sense of anxiety. Some students may have no problem as they will have high-quality learning opportunities and alternatives, but people are not equally privileged.
Many students won’t have access to any of these facilities or anything of quality and thus will suffer more and will be at an enormous disadvantage. Generally, the most economically struggling individuals and families are at the highest risk of losing to the prevailing chaos. The effect of the uneven playing field can be somewhat ameliorated bu using all possible delivery modes, which may also include podcasts, tv, and radio.
Maintenance of engagement of students, particularly young students, is critical. Dropout rates are already at a rise, and long periods of discontinuous concentration will only worsen the situation. Schooling is vital to develop socio-economic skills and to groom the adults of tomorrow into a responsible member of society. Sitting behind the screen may teach you skills, but the only peer to peer interaction helps you become a better person. The lockdown not only interrupted teaching but also has a massive effect on the examinations and assessment strategies. The GSCEs and O levels exams have been canceled for this year, as most authorities opt for the ‘predicted grades’ approach, relying on the internal assessment of the students. This form of judgment is inaccurate as the final examinations are the make and break for every student. An academic year always boils down to the final exams, and students are following carefully constructed strategies, keeping the finals as the topmost priority, which often results in a decline in internal assessment performance. But they make up for it in the end. Instead, unfortunately, some countries like ours have decided to promote students based on their internal assessment, which usually doesn’t have any weightage. This renders their current effort useless and takes away the chances of improvement and better opportunities hence.
Furthermore, the careers of fresh graduates may be severely affected by the pandemic. They experienced interruptions in the final part of learning and thus applying it practically. It is suspected that at the beginning of the global recession, there will be lower-paid jobs and fewer job opportunities overall. Ways to compensate for the loss and risk of unemployment are yet to be devised but must be done urgently.
There’s this laughable notion that children are resilient; they’ll bounce back from whatever you throw at them. However, it is well documented that this is not always the case. We know that things can affect students, both good or bad. We know that early trauma can have devastating effects and irreversibly alter their perception. Similarly, access to proper educational resources will benefit them infinitely in the future. Therefore, it would be rather unreasonable to believe that this is not going to have adverse effects in the long run.
Schools are a source of anchorage by morphing an arithmetic routine to every single student, including the ones who face psychological issues. The school, the socialization that came with it, all of it was a distraction for such children. It made them feel special, encouraging them to stay productive. Living in quarantine has amplified their hardships, making it increasingly difficult to snuff out their demons. The uncertainty and grief are serving as a trigger; pushing it would unravel the lives of countless students who find it challenging to deal with their emotions. Dormitory evacuation has contributed to it even more, especially in the exchange students. These dorms and schools provided a sense of belonging, and with that gone, many are finding it impossible to find some sort of stability in their lives.
Now, to think of solutions, escapism can not be the answer to the situation, no matter how comforting it might be. We’re more likely to give in to procrastination in these times. Online education may affect introverts and extroverts differently, too. Things may seem out of control, with a lot of disruptions going on. Foremost, take care of your well being. Adjusting the routine with a planner may give a sense of control. Some of the study habits may need to be changed. With everything online, avoid multitasking. While it may seem like an efficient thing to do, it is not. You will require more time to develop apace, and you will remember less. Set a schedule for daily or weekly hours for your studies, and how you’re going to do it. Procrastination is the enemy, I mention again, try not to be tempted to do assignments later on. Resist the urge.
Remember that studying always comes with its challenges. Part of the learning experience is how you deal with them. In politics, they say every crisis is an opportunity. Use this time to discover new ways to stay productive, and you may renew your personal goals. Know that no matter how bad the situation is right now due to COVID-19 pandemic, it is temporary, it will pass. Understand that we should use all the resources to gain education, and practice the knowledge physically when we can, and should stay online when we must.
Written By: Rimsha Rameen
About the Author:
I prefer being called ‘Rameen’. A medical student and an empath who likes to believe she has learnt how to write from Fitzgerald in a parallel universe. And, oh, “We must not tell lies.”