Wednesday, 17 August, 2022

Education During and After Covid-19

Sharda Zaman

Education During and After Covid-19
Sharda Zaman

Monster! Monster! Run! Run! Wash your hand, Wear mask, Keep distance, No touching, no sneezing, no coughing, feared, scared, increasing number of affected COVID patients, big queues for test, shortage of testing equipment’s, scarcity of oxygen, shortage of hospital bed, ICU and Ventilator, shortage of medical personnel, scarcity of medicine, sanitizers, Dettol/Savlon, ambulances, increasing number of  death, no place for burial, shortage of personnel for burial, fear and distancing among the non-affected members of any affected member of the same family. Even Pakistan was providing oxygen and ambulances to India. Unbelievable!

All about nightmares! All tourist places, restaurants, and busiest streets become ghost streets all over the world. All educational institutions, Offices, shops were shut down instantly and everything started online. A new phenomenon, a new lifestyle begins. Sparrows, pigeons and other birds made their nest over yonder. Only front line soldiers such as doctors, nurses, medical related personnel, ambulance service providers, security personnel, medicine shops, and burial personnel were allowed to come out of their homes to deliver service to humanity sacrificing their own and their family members’ life.

Teachers were scared how to continue, where to continue and in some instant confused because the situation is new to them as to all others. Most of the teachers had little knowledge of or methods of teaching with digital devices. Most of the schools even did not care and listen to arrange devices, short training sessions regarding usage of digital devices, teaching methods, etc. for the teachers. They have to learn, adapt and arrange many equipment and ideas in the limited spaces of their homes by themselves and also have to learn to teach students in new Apps such as Zoom, Google Classroom, Google Meet etc. As everything was new to everyone, as usual tremendous chaos began between teachers, students and their parents regarding device issues. Everybody was so messed up, confused, disturbed that they were blaming each other for everything.

Parents started to complain that their children always wanted to keep themselves busy with the devices they found, neglecting the owner of the device and their necessity and becoming addicted to devices while keeping aside studying and always giving lame excuses.

During COVID-19 period most of the people of the world were forced to stay at home so millions of people got unemployed or had to work at half the salary in every sector of the economy. Teachers were also among those severely affected as it was a non-productive sector of the economy during that harsh situation. Management was even reluctant to inform any valid reasons for their unemployment or half salary for which not a single teacher may be blamed. After continuous pressure Management started showing different excuses such as parent complaints, lack of IT knowledge, lack of concentration, lack of patience on the part of teachers, non-payment of tuition fees by the parents, absence or reduction of students due to unemployment of parents, leaving cities towards village homes to survive from high inflation.

School authorities at the instigation of parents and some vested interest groups started pressurizing teachers of parent complaints, misbehavior, abusing language not considering the situation prevailing in the world. They even forgot that they have no right to talk to a teacher in such a language who are called the guides of future generation of any society. It is against Human Rights. A teacher can easily file a case against the Authority for all their misdeeds. It is their generosity, love for the country, people and most importantly their beloved tender students that they never tried to complain against the Authority. Management has big mouth but no common sense.

The future of 37 million children in Bangladesh is at risk with their education severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic (19.10.2021, UNICEF, Bangladesh).

Researchers found during Covid-19 period to till date most of the students' physical and mental life and study were badly hampered, especially English and Mathematics. Tremendous two year loss of education! During teaching time it was observed students were lacking even in Times Table to Multiplications, Mathematics and Noun to Sentence Structure in English. Now the big question is how to deal with the situation to cover up the loss? The best and easiest way seems to forget about the past, grab the present in a strong way and dream for tomorrow. Children were likely to be experiencing worry, anxiety and fear of dying or a fear of what it means to receive medical treatment which affected their mental wellbeing. It reflected on their study. So we need to help to avoid failing a generation of children.

Governments, parents, teachers, authorities will need to work together to deliver on the promise of education as a fundamental human right for all children. We have to emphasize basic reading and math. We have to increase catch up learning and progress beyond what was lost. Develop psychosocial health and wellbeing so every child is ready to learn. Engage them in physical activities such as indoor and outdoor games, swimming, cycling and so on. Field trips or study tours should be added to the policy. Instead of army rules schools should follow the happy rules. Children have already started their classes as well as appearing for their exams, but changes are needed to ensure that they are really learned. The majority of children have lacked behind in mastering foundational skills and either reading or numeracy. We have to create a world of education where every child has equal access to quality education. Policy makers have to do more research before introducing policies to recover from this crisis.

“We shall overcome some day”. It should not be a motivational speech; rather, we should work on it. We want actions, not rhetoric. 


The writer works as an Invigilator, Exam Services, British Council, Dhaka