The crisis that has risen due to Covid-19 Pandemic is still on. The damage caused by the deadly virus has taken every one’s life for a toss and has affected almost every walk of life. Nearly two thirds of the world went into lock down to contain spread of the virus.
With the production of the vaccines, the hope emerged that the spread of pandemic will be checked. However, the 2nd wave turned to be more severe and devastating apparently due to change in variant. The lock down was imposed, as a result of which many sectors were hit badly; the lives of millions of people have been changed. The schools and other educational institutions were closed. The young and adolescents have no option but to stay indoors. This is the stage of life when this age group is in need of age appropriate fun, and play for development of brain and body.
Education department started on-line classes for students. The majority of students have no liking for online mode of teaching. A recent survey on online learning revealed its relevance and applicability. The central government accepted that 70% students in J&K do not have access to digital devices. In other words 70% students are not able to take advantage of online mode of education. It is remaining 30% who have the facility and can avail of online learning mode.
The government lately allowed starting community classes, but only a limited number of students can avail themselves of this facility because open spaces/ parks are scarcely available, where SOPs can be applied. Without assessing the ground situation, the claims that are made, in essence they are hollow. Each time when annual examinations are nearing, the students demand relaxations in syllabus. In such a situation authorities have the only option of postponing examinations; postponement is not a solution, as it snatches away time of succeeding academic year and increases pressure on the students. The examinations shall in no case be postponed which even can lead to the loss of an academic year.
In J & K, lockdown is almost lifted and common people live a normal life now. People are thronging tourist places, bazaars and other public places and feel no difference. Public transport is plying, restaurants are open and trains run and the most encouraging trend is that Covid-19 is at its lowest ebb. According to Union Health Ministry Report, 18 districts in J&K show less than 2% positivity rate and that is sufficient to prove that pandemic is under control. When Maharashtra government is seriously considering the opening of schools, a state that has suffered with highest Covid-19 infections and subsequent deaths, the administration here without finding the alternatives, simply- ordered closure of schools and other educational institutions.
It is now more than two years that students are missing in person classes. Let the people at the helm of affairs think through the lens of young students how stressful it is. Private Coaching centers Association had last month decided opening of coaching centers. This way secondary and above classes would have been benefited to some extent. This proposal was turned down and the efforts of CCA bore no fruits and the students have to content with self reading. Let us now see effects of home confinement in young students.
Identifying the Problem:
Alongside the academic down play, the physiological, Psychological and emotional aspects of students get undermined. New problems crop up with each passing day. Lingering physical, mental and neurological symptoms are affecting children and even adults. This can be an obvious reason for future drop outs as many students will be found struggling to recover from neurological, physical and psychiatric symptoms.
A student generally feels comfortable in a class room as he is in the company of his friends and peers. The students complain that the online education system has created a stressful environment for them in their homes due to work load of completion of syllabus and on the other hand absence of friends force them to study in an environment that is not conducive for them to study in peace.
Symptoms of Stress:
*Avoiding online learning
*Difficulty in paying attention
* Unhealthy eating and sleeping habits
* Unexplained headaches and body pain
WAYS IN WHICH WE CAN SUPPORT YOUNG STUDENTS:
1) Spend more time with your child / children
2) Answer questions about Covid-19
3) Create a schedule for your child
4) Read and exercise together
5) The teachers shall provide space and display more patience
6) Take your children for outing
7) Arrange meeting of their school friends
8) Patient listening and help children in all possible ways
The State Executive Committee has hinted at reopening of higher educational institutions in a fortnight. The academic year in Kashmir is at its peak and if the schools remain closed then this academic year has at its credit the distinction of a year in which students of a particular class neither know class fellows nor his/ her teacher.
Normally, annual examinations in Kashmir begin from October. The SEC shall also consider opening of coaching centers and schools to bring smile back in the lives of children with strict adherence to CAB guidelines. Doing so will surely help in easing stress in them.
Mir Mohammad Gulzar is a former Principal