The year 2020 witnessed the global pandemic caused due to the spreading of coronavirus disease. With the virus spreading like a wildfire, there were multiple lockdowns and restrictions imposed upon various sectors, including the educational sector. For many students and teachers, it seemed like a short break, as most institutions had institutions only shut for a fortnight.
The idea of completing school and going to college is a dream for many students. It is something they look forward for a long time as the college-phase of life has a lot to offer for them in terms of experiences and learnings. But for the students who entered this phase of life in 2020, challenges and disappointments are aplenty, as many of them have not got the opportunity to enter their campuses and classrooms yet. The inevitable pandemic and the uncertain future have left many students in despair.
The Government of Sikkim brought out a notification today extending the lockdown restrictions on educational institutions in the State till August 31, 2021. With the pandemic worsening and the predicted third wave, educational institutions across most states of India remain shut. During the past one year, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has come up with suggestions and innovative methods to conduct online classes and evaluations. The Government of Sikkim has been very cautious in preventing the pandemic from spreading through educational institutions, both school and higher level. And with online teaching having crossed its one-year mark, institutions and teachers have also adopted to the change. But having said this, online teaching and learning also rises a lot of challenges and difficulties among the stakeholders of the education system.
The year 2020 witnessed the global pandemic caused due to the spreading of coronavirus disease. With the virus spreading like a wildfire, there were multiple lockdowns and restrictions imposed upon various sectors, including the educational sector. For many students and teachers, it seemed like a short break, as most institutions had institutions only shut for a fortnight. But that fortnight still seems to continue. Although some institutions in the State of Sikkim had resumed for a short while in 2021, most of the classes have been happening online.
Suditya Sapcotta, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Sikkim Manipal University said, “It is especially difficult with the students pursuing their post graduation as the two years of masters program is not just about classes but also important in the moulding of the foundation of the students to pursue their research. And with online classes, one-on-on interaction is a great challenge. The students who joined for the MA program in 2020 have already completed a year without having the opportunity to visit the Department even once. And if the pandemic continues in this manner, its very likely that they will complete their course online.”
“There are also students from remote areas who find it really difficult to attend classes regularly due to technological challenges. Another issue is that the students are also missing out on many activities such as discussions and talks which would help them widen their horizon and develop a perspective.” He added.
Gyaltsen Ngoedup Lachungpa, a first-year graduation student pursuing his BA from Sikkim Manipal University said, “Online classes have taken a huge toll on the students, especially the first years, as we missed out the on-campus experience which basically is what college life is all about. Lack of human interaction among our own classmates has created this overwhelming communication barrier which I fear will take a lot of time to overcome.”
Chanda Chetry, a student who moved to Gangtok from Assam for her graduation, said, “The new normal has changed everything. We sit at our rooms all day staring at our phone screens and make notes. This virtual world has resulted in some sort of isolation of the students. Everything many of us looked forward to about college life is still a dream.”
From experiencing a campus life, to meeting new people and learning from life, many students are missing out on the much-awaited phase of their lives. And in terms of teaching and learning, no matter how much technology progresses, the lack of human interaction will always possess a challenge and form a lacuna in the academic growth of students. With great uncertainties dwelling around us and the reality of the inevitable lockdowns, the educational institutions and its stakeholders are facing different kinds of challenges. But they all progress with a hope for a better tomorrow and a teaching-learning process that happens inside a classroom space.
By Vaidyanath Nishant. The author is a freelance writer.He can be contacted at [email protected]