Covid-19 : Impact on Education

Saraswathi Tenneti

Covid-19 has had its impact locally, nationally and globally in all spheres of life.   All sections of society have been affected in myriad ways. It has had a peculiar effect in the field of education with schools, colleges and Universities all closed down, examinations cancelled, hostels closed and children forced to stay indoors. Home-life became very challenging.

The period has witnessed the phenomena of thousands of students stranded in far off places and in foreign countries desperate to come home. Many of them had no financial resources to sustain themselves with hostels closed and no flights to go home. They were totally helpless. The desperate pleas to be repatriated did result in many being repatriated.  Students found themselves locked in. This resulted in the changing face of Education

In the field of education, the future appears to be uncertain. The whole world has become topsy turvy. There can be no doubt that radical changes have to be made. The present situation requires a rethinking and remodelling of the nature and process of education. The concept and methodology requires a revamping in order to strengthen the entire fabric of the educational process and make education meaningful.

In the early days there was a kind of initial confusion. Everyone was trying to come to terms with the lock down that was mandatory to prevent the spread of the virus. This situation led to a new kind of understanding and awareness of education. It primarily involved the inclusion of children in the day-to-day activities of life at home. This could be the participation in activities like gardening cooking cleaning the house and other sundry tasks. Perhaps many children learnt that there are many ways through which one could acquire knowledge apart from reading and studying that constitute the normal process of learning in ordinary times. There were other instances of children being exposed to culture through the reading of the scriptures and learning to recite prayers and shlokas.

The prolonged lock down very soon brought to the fore the necessity of continuing academic activities. Regular education and attending schools and colleges hit a road block with no clear idea regarding the resumption of regular classes being conducted in the traditional manner. It was found imperative to find alternative methods of the teaching learning process. It was at this juncture that the concept of online education was introduced. In spite of the initial hiccups both teachers and students rose to the occasion. It was a challenging situation with many teachers being forced to invest in technology and learn the nuances of managing the problems associated with technology. Another problem was the access to technology with a large number of students having neither mobiles nor connectivity. In spite of many efforts to provide classes through the Television and having dedicated channels for conducting classes the less privileged ones were left in the lurch.  The elite and the well–off settled down quite comfortably, but is has been observed that a large  number of  students have been completely relegated to  a state of utter helplessness.

It is to be borne in mind that online teaching has both positive and negative aspects. Some of the greatest problems are loss of concentration, exposure to the screen that can be deleterious to the eyes, students trying to hoodwink the teachers with lame excuses like complaining about connectivity and becoming more addicted to technology for harmful purposes.

It is an established fact that teaching, more so at the primary level requires face to face interaction.  It is the physical presence of the teacher, the ambience and the interaction with fellow students that strengthens the personality and enables the student to develop social skills to navigate the ups and downs of life. In spite of all the development and use of technology, one cannot dispense with the teacher.

This brings us to an important question regarding the future of education. It has to be accepted that blended learning is an important aspect of continuing the process of education, but the feasibility of providing such a kind of learning is a Herculean task. It is, therefore, imperative to evolve a new mode of teaching and learning, especially at the primary level.    

Let us consider some of the changes that can be introduced. The fundamental task is to ensure that the infrastructure is strengthened.  Playgrounds, libraries and auditoriums must be made mandatory. Every village should have a well-equipped school with teachers to use blended learning. Teacher training programs must be conducted and teachers should upgrade their teaching skills to be on par with the modern generation of tech savvy students. There should be no dearth of the teaching faculty. In spite of the prevalence of the virus one should revert to normal activities taking due precautions. Outdoor activities, nature rambling and excursions should be a part of the assessment process.  Parents should be made to become partners in the teaching process.

Learning to face life and being resilient should become a part of education.

Can this be done? Nothing is impossible. Let this be the starting point for a more holistic education in the new era.



< Contents                                                                                                                                Next >