The life of students in confinement

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The idea of ​​using digital technologies to teach students from home was introduced to continue education and overcome mental stress and anxiety

The number of new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) jumped to over 22 million globally, while the number of cases in India exceeded 2.9 million as of August 21, 2020.

A full lockdown was imposed on March 24 for 21 days to curb the spread of the disease. However, the number of cases still increased at an alarming rate, leading to the continued confinement.

The “unlocking” phases in India began on June 1. All educational institutions have been closed to promote the need for social distancing, compounding the impact on education.

Schools and educational institutions remained closed even after the unlocking phases to ensure the safety of students, teachers and their families.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) responded to the school closures with several recommendations. He called for the use of distance education programs, apps and open educational platforms that schools and teachers can use to reach learners remotely and limit disruption to education.

The idea of ​​using digital technologies to teach students at home was introduced to continue education and overcome mental stress and anxiety during lockdown.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a digital revolution in the higher education system through online lectures, teleconferences, digital open books, online exams, and interactions in virtual environments.

Several states and union territories, including Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram and West Bengal, have set up daily televised lectures as the Union’s Ministry of Human Resource Development has teamed up with television service providers to allocate specific channels for this purpose.

University faculties create accounts on the online video conferencing platforms of Zoom Video Communications Inc, Skype Inc and Google LLC, among others, to engage with students.

Some 1.37 billion students in 138 countries around the world and 32 million students in India have been affected by school and university closures, according to UNESCO.

Nearly 60.2 million school and university teachers are no longer in class. School closures not only impact students, teachers and families, but also have far-reaching economic and societal consequences.

The impact was more severe for disadvantaged children and their families. In India, where most people still live in rural areas, almost 70% of children attend public schools. Nationwide digital learning is virtually impossible in these schools and comes with opportunity costs.

Reading ability among privileged families in India (2016)

Source: ASER 2016 data at unit level

The increased use of virtual classrooms has benefits because students have enough time to complete their classes, allowing both their study and work hours to work from home.

A survey conducted by the faculties of the International School of Business and Research, Bengaluru stated:

When professors started attending online sessions, they were shocked to see student attendance was 20 times higher than in regular class sessions, with nearly full attendance while virtually engaging with them. Faculty feel that there is not much difference between online and offline sessions, as they can share presentations, play videos, and use boards and markers just like in regular classrooms.

Online teaching is better than regular sessions because one can focus on one’s family and one’s mental peace. On the other hand, poor internet connectivity, power supply, lack of smartphones and other gadgets hamper educational opportunities for students in rural areas. The Niti Aayog, in its New India [email protected] report, indicates that 55,000 villages in the country do not have mobile network coverage.

Rural Households by State with Internet Facility in India (2017-18)

Source: NSS Education Survey, 2017-18

Teachers also find it difficult to adapt to digital teaching, as the concept is new to them and requires dedication and more observant attitudes.

Schoolchildren between the ages of 4 and 12 barely own mobile phones or know how to use them. Teachers communicate with them through their parents’ phones, which wastes their time. Most of the time, parents who work from home struggle between their job and the education of their children.

An internal survey by the University of Hyderabad found that 2,500 students had problems with online teaching. Although 90% of respondents had a mobile phone, around 63% of them could access online courses rarely or not at all.

Interestingly, of the concerns raised about teaching online, 40% said unreliable connectivity was a major deterrent, while 30% cited the cost of data. Significantly, 10% said uncertain electricity supply was a concern.

On the other hand, while mobile phones are more or less accessible to everyone, those who own laptops or computers are very few.

According to UNESCO, half of the total number of learners, or 826 million students worldwide, did not have access to a home computer and 43% (706 million) did not have the Internet at home.

Students who had access to the provisions of the network and fully participated in online classes received only “virtual education”. The maximum percentage of school children and students who enter online courses simply learn during lectures.

Moreover, this practice of bringing lessons on electronic gadgets has increased children’s screen time, where learning has become secondary. Social distancing and virtual classrooms have exempted children and young people from their social circles and outside environment.

As a result, they have become more indulgent, socially excluded, more involved in gimmicks and virtual indoor games.

This can have long-term implications for students as they attempt to enter the job market. These habits can also lead to serious health problems and hinder their natural development.

The New Education Policy, 2020 prepare school systems to deal with such pandemics more effectively and without prolonged disruption in the future and move towards building a strong public education system in the country.

COVID-19 has taught us how school is not just learning, but encompasses a social space, a social process, for learning to live, think and act for the good of self and society as a whole.

Madhubrota Chatterjee, Shreemoyee Saha and Mritunjay Jha hold master’s degrees in population studies from the International Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai.

The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Down to earth.





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