The sudden and widespread impact of COVID-19 led to an unprecedented lockdown in over 185. The economic effects have been dire with the virus threatening to handicap several sectors of the economy. One such industry that has taken quite a hit is the education system.
Schools and colleges offering B.Tech engineering in computer science, and others started experiencing the effects of the novel virus before governments employed complete lockdowns all over the world. And as it happens, the education system continues to bear the crown-shaped virus’s brunt almost eight months since it first appeared.
Universities and schools resorted to online teaching methods, which seemed like an apt alternative, albeit temporarily. But a smooth transition to remote methods of learning was easier said than done.
A mere glance at the education system will show you glaring loopholes in a country like India. With a massive digital gap and lack of internet infrastructure, the issues start right when one enters an online class of BBA course and so on.
But has there been a silver lining at all? Is online teaching a long term answer as India gears up for the long haul in the global fight against the pandemic? Let’s find out.
Adverse Effects of the novel Coronavirus on the Education System
- Digital Divide
Lack of internet access is the primary reason why India can’t afford to teach students B.Tech engineering, B.Com programme, and other courses digitally. While the education system has grown leaps and bounds over the past few years, most of it can be attributed to the building of elementary and Anganwadi schools in remote villages.
A recent report in 2017-18 found out that only 560 million Indians have internet access. That is about 40% of the population. Education is a necessity and should be accessible to everyone. The lack of internet penetration rules out the remote teaching option for a majority learning B. Tech syllabus and more.
Moreover, many of those with smartphones don’t have a stable internet connection to attend video calls for the BBA course, B.Com programme, and other courses. The inability of students in rural areas to understand the usage of internet and video calling apps is another of the various issues of the digital divide in India.
- Salary Cuts and Layoffs for teachers
As the economy slumps down to unprecedented lows with the supply chains disrupted, many people can’t afford to pay the school fee. Governments have taken measures to ensure schools only charge tuition fees until the pandemic comes to an end.
That directly affects teacher and staff salaries. Schools and universities teaching b tech computer science and so on are trying to clear out staff and deduct salaries to ensure profit flows steadily.
A majority of the backroom staff and workers like sweepers and housekeeping staff have lost their jobs as schools and colleges continue to remain closed.
- Uncertainty over exams
Lack of credibility of online courses and poor internet access means that universities can’t conduct online exams. While the government has allowed universities to promote first and second-year students, final year B.Com Hons and other subject students have been left stranded.
The uncertainty has proved depressing for a lot of final year students who were looking to go for higher studies or search for a job right after college.
- A blow to campus placements
As economies close in on recession, companies are trying to clear out their staff to stay afloat. Big corporations have fired hundreds of employees. Likewise, companies have avoided recruiting new workers, which has led to reduced campus placement rates.
- Unprepared teachers for online teaching
India has been one of the slowest countries in terms of adopting new technologies. As a result, a good part of the current generation of teachers doesn’t have the necessary expertise in technology.
The sudden transition has led to teachers delivering lectures without ensuring proper learning outcomes. Adapting to this new mode of teaching and can be particularly challenging for aged teachers teaching B.Tech syllabus.
- Lack of Engagement
A smooth transition to online teaching for B.Com Hons and other students is impossible without adopting the syllabus to remote teaching requirements. Finishing the syllabus is one thing, and letting the children absorb the teachings is another.
Online teaching has led to students becoming passive learners, usually lacking proper attention. As teachers can’t increase the engagement levels by observing students, many children are bound to attend classes for the sake of attendance.
Is there a silver lining?
If institutions manage to blend online and face-to-face learning in an integrated model, it can be possible to solve student’s doubts even while they work from home.
It is also an excellent opportunity for companies to dish out learning management platforms for schools.
But all that doesn’t infer that online learning can replace traditional teaching methods. And in a country like India, it won’t be a surprise if we open schools at the first opportunity.