A glimmer of hope for pandemic-hit education sector

Students in a classroom even as they maintain social distance at Srinagar's Women's College. [Image for representational purpose only]
Students in a classroom even as they maintain social distance at Srinagar's Women's College. [Image for representational purpose only] File: Aman Farooq/ GK

The year 2021 came as a glimmer of hope for the pandemic-hit education sector in J&K which remained completely disrupted during the year 2020.

The year 2021 was a period of recovery as efforts were made at all levels to mitigate the impact of the closure of educational institutions.

“The experimentation with the blended online-offline mode was part of it. The second wave of the pandemic early in the year did threaten to consume the entire year, but we could salvage at least a semester at college and university level,” said Suhail Ahmad, Assistant Professor at Journalism Department at Government College for Women, M A Road.

The government also started giving relaxation in the COVID-19 lockdown wherein the educational institutions were allowed to start physical class work with limited attendance.

While the government allowed resumption of physical class work for high and higher secondary classes, the school heads of primary and middle schools were allowed to conduct community classes within the premises of the schools as well.

In the case of higher education, the institutions were permitted to commence limited in-person teaching subject to the 100 percent vaccination of the staff and the students.

The class work was started in degree colleges after obtaining proper permission from the concerned Deputy Commissioners (DCs).

One of the major factors which paved the way for the reopening of schools and higher educational institutions was the success rate of the vaccination drive launched by the J&K government.

“It was far from an ideal academic year, but the students and teachers made the lessons learned in 2020 count to cope with the uncertainty created by the pandemic,” Ahmad said.

Meanwhile, one could see a keen interest of students in the resumption of offline classes which was an encouraging sign.

“Even the chronic absentees were eager to join classes on the campus during 2021. Hopefully, we will have a relatively hassle-free 2022,” he said.

During the year 2020 when physical gatherings, in-person teaching were completely banned, the year 2021 brought some hopes of maintaining the interaction between the students and the teachers.

“We were allowed to go for community classes within the premises of our respective schools and this trend gained momentum. All the teachers actively participated in teaching community classes outside the rooms but mostly within the premises of the schools,” said Umar Rashid Bhat, a teacher from Baramulla.

The practice of holding community classes brought back the derailed academic scenario and a classroom culture was once again found among the students after almost two years.

“I am optimistic and hopeful that in the coming year we will not see further lockdown of schools,” he said.

People were scared at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 as the main focus was on precautions and safety.

People did not want to come out in lockdown and more focus was on precautions.

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