Change has become an important phenomenon subjecting on economic change, socio-cultural changes, changes in family structures and values, morals, thoughts, lifestyles and geographical, global, social and political aspects, and so on. According to John Dewey, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” We can say, education is one of the most powerful non-visible gifts that human can achieve to adorn life with inner and outer beauties. From the year 2020 till today, the world has undoubtedly been experiencing some awful events, loses of lives, dreadful nights, agonies, health crisis, socio-economic crisis, broken relations and so on. Moreover, this pandemic of Covid-19 has been raging across the planet with devastating effects on education and almost all other unavoidable issues of life.
Like those of most other countries of the world, different levels of education sectors such as primary, secondary, higher secondary and university education of Bangladesh are providing the learners off-campus education for more than one year. Accordingly, face-to-face classes have been suspended. Classroom-oriented teaching and learning have shifted to virtual lessons. Students have had to leave their schools, colleges, university campuses, hostels, and dormitories. Though, as an effective means, majority of urban schools, colleges, and universities started conducting online classes, students outside the metropolitan cities have less participation in all these arrangements since essential facilities for TEL (Technology-enhanced Learning) are not widely available to many of them. Gradually, the direct and indirect assistance of Smartphones and Apps assisting to train and transfer learning from academic classroom setting to non-fenced on-line setting for all is getting importance.Like the spooky fairy tales that are told to children to keep them home because of the fear of some deadly dragons or kidnappers, we are keeping our tiny tots/ learners safe at home. Before Covid-19, children spent considerable amount of time in school ground. Apart from studying, they played and talked with their friends and teachers. Thus, they enriched themselves with better socialization. Children are now away from physical classroom albeit not from virtual classroom. They are getting the flavour of modernization as well as globalization. The only non-visible hindrance is negative habit formation. If children get accustomed to using technology comfortably, the challenges will be more acute in future to make them skilled persons in terms of holistic approach to education. Our family, elders and teachers must deal this issue with tolerance and wit. Let us involve our young learners in some creative studies, reading text, writing lockdown memory and learning things beyond text like health safety rules. Heath found, “Children, to get along with people and to accomplish social goals, need to use their community's language, and they also acquire those ways of using language through experiences in various community activities and interactions.” (Ways with Words: Language, Life, and Works in Communities and Classroom). During any pandemic, community’s love, care and support are mostly required. We should keep in mind that this war is not only for Covid-19 affected families, it is for all of us. One of the positive sides of technology is that in spite of maintaining safe physical distance, we can talk over mobile phones using some apps and thus can touch the broken hearts to heal and flourish. Thus families, relatives and friends can play vital role in facing challenges of Covid-19.
The in-campus classes of universities of Bangladesh have been shut down since March, 2020 till date. To the students of university and colleges, there are different challenges. Economic, mental, psychological and social crises are a few of them. Some of the students are passing time with acute depression. Learners at this age and position are assets to the society. The whole society should provide our graduate learners proper feedback and support to overcome the shortage. Undergraduate learners should increase tolerance and inner motivation. They should believe that no crisis lasts forever and in this crisis they are the leaders who will guide us forward. They should acquire knowledge on different subjects, job sectors, mathematics, basic science, computer, languages, management, handicrafts, agriculture and music too. The world, after Covid-19, will be for multi-dimensional skills. Since we are moving the focus from teaching to learning, positive involvement is essential in terms of increasing intellectual, practical and problem-solving skills, analytical skills, entrepreneurship and innovation skills, communication and ICT skills, interpersonal team work and leadership skills, self-management, commitment to community, country and humanity, and all other essential skills.
Learners with autonomous skills are always benefited. According to Toyoda (2001), there are three conditions necessary for autonomous learning, accessible and reliable technology; sufficient computer literacy in students; and good communication with and support from peers. Now, comes the question of increasing moral values. The challenges in education may be on lack of practical skill and moral values. Without moral values, civilization will be at stake. From kids to young learners, all should learn how to talk, behave and act with respect and motivation. While using technology, they may take lessons from Bees who collect only honeys from flowers. Love for country, family, society and for this planet should spring from our surroundings. Let us take proper care of environment and surroundings not only for others but also for our present and future.
In the end, let me come back to today’s topic of discussion which is what we need, urgently and carefully, to do for education during this ongoing pandemic. If, after giving considerable thoughts to the pros and cons of online and onsite education, we feel it ineluctable to reopen the academic institutes to restart face-to-face classes consisting of teachers and students, we have to definitely make sure that each and every educational institute has sufficient health measures and each and every teacher and student follows health rules properly. We need proper education in this changed world. As opined by Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
The writer is columnist andAssociate professor of Institute of Modern Languages (IML) of Jagannath University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Email: [email protected]