The outbreak of Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the education system in the city.

There are around 150 pre-schools in the city and many of them had to close down during the pandemic even after running successfully for many years. One of the main reasons behind this was that the parents started seeing pre-schools as ‘optional’ and thought there was no use in paying for online classes. People running pre-schools at rented establishments had to shut down as they couldn’t cope up with the high rents and no income. Many teachers lost their jobs due to this and it’ll have a negative impact on the growth of children in long term as pre-school is a stepping stone and sets the foundation for education in a child. While some did make their toddlers attend online classes, it surely wasn’t always a smooth ride for them.

Ayna Jain, the mother of Usabh Jain who recently finished online pre-school from Little Kingdom, says,” My child never got to interact with the other children, and the meaning of school for him is limited to staring at a laptop. He had no social development. This was the time he was supposed to enjoy the most, but he got stuck at home. The only benefit which matters is the safety of my child and is the most important thing to me and his preschool made sure learning didn’t stop for him even if he is was at home.”

Government, aided and private schools closed down after March 2020 and resumed through an online mode of teaching. Many had difficulties resuming through online learning as it was difficult for both the children and adults to figure out how to do it. Many also didn’t have access to laptops and smartphones, especially the ones studying in government schools. Government schools were already struggling before the lockdown and now they’re finding it even more difficult to cope up with online teaching as many of the students don’t have the resources or the interest to continue studying. Also, since many migrant labourers became unemployed due to the lockdown, they started engaging their children in doing petty work.

A mother of a 7-year-old from Manav Rachna International School, Dugri Rd, Ludhiana, Smita Raina Dass, says,” The current global turmoil due to the coronavirus pandemic is having a severe effect with everyone being forced to adjust to the changing dynamics of social and interpersonal relationships. With most of the nations in a lockdown mode, an important aspect to be considered is the impact of covid-19 on children. The physical activities of children have significantly come down in this period thereby leading to weight gain. The anxiety and worries of the parents are easily absorbed by children, as they are very sensitive to changes in the environment. This may result in pessimistic thoughts leading to depression, anxiety, and loneliness among children.”

Even when the schools got reopened in January and February, only a few were interested in sending their children back as it was still unsafe. Although, the schools promised to take all the precautions including planning the seating arrangements, introducing a mixed medium of classes (both online and offline), and educating the children from time to time for following social distancing norms.  Also, reopening schools in January didn’t end well as per the health department data, the CPR (Covid Positivity Rate) rose from 1.23% to around 3.1% in February among students and staff (including teaching and non-teaching staff). The majority of the positive cases were from the government schools. The mental health of students is never taken into account and many of the students are struggling right now without even knowing they are struggling due to a lack of mental health awareness in Indian households. People are losing their family members due to Covid-19 but the teachers expect them to submit their assignments before the deadline and go on with their lives. We need to install a better education system for our children, more practical subjects over theoretical subjects should be the main theme. The impact has been felt on high school students too.

Vanshika Gupta, 18, a student of Kundan Vidya Mandir, Civil Lines, says,” The education system in this country is designed in a way that the entire lives of students are dependent on 12th class board examinations. I, like any other, looked forward to my last year in school.  But for obvious reasons, the online school wasn't the same. I had no motivation to wake up in the morning to attend classes. Even as a student who does not struggle often, academically and did not go through any major familial problems, I could not seem to concentrate. The entire school year went by in a haze. The benefit was that I had all these new kinds of resources to help me prepare.

I had prepared for the board exams to the best of my abilities but I was still not confident because the entire syllabus was covered online and I hadn't gone through strict offline exams. Hence, I wouldn't be entirely lying if I said that I wasn't happy that the exams were cancelled. But the anxiety that followed, was something my friends and I have never experienced before. Most of us didn't perform well in our class 11th finals and we took class 12th school exams as more of a practice test. An average would change the results drastically from what they could have been. So, to say the least, it’s a bittersweet feeling”.

We can conclude by saying that our education system in general needs a change to be more accommodative towards online teaching and head towards a more practical concept.

Author: Vanshika Jain