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Online education and childhood

Covid-19 is a misfortune that has affected not only in our lifeworld but it is affecting the lifeworld of the entire world. It is tough to believe that there is any section of the society that has not been affected by the virus in some way or the other. The pandemic has resulted into a lot of disturbances in various events owing to disturbances in the process of socialization. Senior citizens and children have been particularly affected by this mishap. Children who require a free and progressive environment in the early years of their lives are trapped in their houses. It now seems like this period is not going to end soon and they’ll have to spend a huge part of their childhood stuck in their homes.

The childhood that wandered around fearlessly in parks and localities is now cramped between the four walls due to Covid-19. Schools were shut with the Covid outbreak at the end of the March but by April, the schools devised plans to shift to the online mode of education. The children cooperated somehow for some time but by July, the schools sent time table for the online classes.

It is indubitable that the schools have to pay their staff and charge fee from the students and thus they deem it necessary to conduct classes since it is unfair to charge a fee without providing any services. But amongst all this is a childhood lost to the pandemic that no one seems to care about. How these children, who are used to being surrounded by open parks and their friends will concentrate from 9 to 2 in online classes is a huge question. This could have been an experiment with the students in their secondary year but making children who are still in primary and pre-primary classes go through this is not just impractical but also inhuman.

One cannot ignore the fact that these children, stuck in their houses, are also facing psychological difficulties. Making them wear school uniforms and sit in front of screens for 5 hours daily is an inhuman activity. It is disappointing that neither the Ministry of HRD nor the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, who are responsible bodies have turned their backs towards the issue.

Children of primary and pre-primary classes, who need assistance for most of their tasks are left in front of the screens and the education system of our country considers its job to be complete. It is a point of concern that those who are promoting to the next classes, those who are starting school amid all, they are introduced to ‘school’, ‘class’ in virtual mode. Schools are charging a fee but they do not want to invest in academic counselling etc.

Ministries of Education in the various states and the Ministry of Human Resource and Development that claim to work for achieving better standards of education in the country seem to be ignorant towards the children of primary and pre-primary classes. There can be many reasons behind this. For instance, students of secondary classes and universities have access to social media through which they regularly comment on the government policies in their capacity, whereas, students of primary and pre-primary classes can’t convey their messages even through their teachers and parents. Teachers often don’t express their views on the same since the issue directly affects their livelihood.

When countries all around the world are concerned about their students’ mental health, the education system of our country is involved in employing teachers to expand their profits. Primary level is the most neglected section in our education system because the results in this sphere take time. Most countries of the world invest in primary education because this is a sphere that prepares the base for the coming years. It’s disheartening that our country fails to acknowledge this. The schools are running their own way, they are merging sections, running many classes in a single day. Most of the schools and some parents still believe that completing the curriculum is the only objective of the school. They are trying to put as many as possible information in the mind of Child whether she/he wants to take it or not but the silence of regulators and education bodies are big concerns. They are refusing to take notice of these practices.

If the only problem of schools is to keep their staff occupied, they should figure out other tasks that they can undertake for the time being. Teachers can compile study material so that it can be used when schools resume. They can use this time to expand their skillset. It’s not necessary to pressurize children for this. The government should formulate an overall policy for schools that are unable to cope with the economic pressure and provide them with assistance. There are many schools that won’t be able to face the economic challenges related to Covid-19 for a long time. The ministry of Human Resource and Development should develop plans to help such schools.

This is a time that can be utilized to reform the education system of the country and it is unfortunate that it is being invested in finding shortcuts to solve the current crisis which will be disastrous in the long run. The government should take children’s mental health seriously and minimize, or completely stop the practice of online education.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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