The year 2020 is not welcomed in the usual traditional and common way. Merely because the world got busy dealing with a health crisis. Covid-19 appeared in China and soon spread all over the world bringing life to a new normal. Social distancing, wearing face masks, avoiding public gathering, and above all stay at home if you have no urgent matter to attend outside of the home.
As soon as it emerged how contagious Covid-19 is, public gathering places were locked down. As the minors appear to be among the topmost vulnerable group’s schools, colleges, universities, and all forms of educational institutions got shut down.
While the world is already facing an educational crisis, this pandemic has made it worse. UNESCO reports that about 87% of school-going children are affected in the current wave of school closures around the world. It is important to note that this closure is actually through government orders keeping in view the health safety of students and teachers.
As the drop out rate is already uncontrollable in some parts of the world. It is estimated that the drop out rate will be significantly high during and after this pandemic. This data doesn’t include students at colleges, universities, and informal education systems. Overall, the numbers are going to be much higher if the headcount is done.
Although the educational institutions are closed indefinitely. Governments, parents and educational staff are trying their best to keep students intact with education. Various educational mechanisms are given trials throughout the world. While some systems have worked well in some parts of the world while some systems haven’t achieved the expected outcome.
Many including teachers are of the view ‘education can wait’ particularly the formal form of education. They believe that this stay-at-home time is better to be utilized in developing strong family ties that are started to break loose. Or train and teach your kids life skills that would help them grow into productive adults at a later stage.
While everyone is home, household chores have increased, more cooked food needed and more laundry to do. Not to forget the cleaning has included another step of disinfecting things of common use. Parents think that creating a joint household work routine will help their kids understand the importance of housework and help kids understand their responsibility to do their due share. Teaching cooking, baking, sewing, and little DIY projects to younger ones increase their knowledge and help them deal with little life problems in the future.
This is a term that we all have heard long before this pandemic hit the world. Supporters of homeschooling argue that traditional schools are not doing enough and are producing merely graduates who can only be of use to certain fields of work.
While the school is closed, many parents including myself tried homeschooling. It can be one of the most tiring and near to impossible if you are not trained to deal with toddlers and teens. Mixing pleasure with education is a complex job. Keeping a child interested and sticking to a timetable is challenging. Particularly if you have other matters to attend to.
For work-from-home parents, homeschooling is more like a dream. As most of the offices are now working from home, workers have to show their presence in a 9-5 routine. Schools being closed for indefinite periods, homeschooling is one great option if timely routines can be set.
As Zoom is the most used app of this year, the usage includes online classes conducted on Zoom. Either you can log-in through the app or directly use the web-based version for convenience. While connecting through technology is easy, concentrating through technology isn’t.
Teachers find it hard to keep students mentally present throughout the lecture. Parents find it tiring to continually sit with their children to keep them interested in a virtual class. Students particularly toddlers are not tech-savvy to the extent that they get lost in handling the mics and videos. Not used to online group gatherings is a hurdle and new decorum needs to be set while participating in discussions.
Google has provided the educationists a platform to connect. Known as Google classrooms, it allows users to upload content including video and audio. So teachers can post assignments and students can do the assignments in their own time and upload back the completed file. Talking to teachers and other classmates through comment feature is also an added advantage.
The problem arises where the students are too young to open an account and deal with uploading or downloading of files. In many cases, the printing of assignments is needed that also added a layer of the task to the parents’ list.
Speedy and steady Internet connection is also a challenge along with a lack of access to smart devices, laptops, and personal computers in low-income families.
Impact on Costs
In most of the world, education is not free. Even where it is free, it incurs expenses. School staff needs salaries and that is managed through school tuition fees students pay usually monthly.
Parents argue that while kids are at home it is not fair and justified to pay the regular fee. While this closedown has made many parents jobless it is obvious that parents are in no position to pay for school expenses resulting in dropouts.
Teachers and school staff are paid employees who need salaries that is their livelihood. Private schools find it hard to manage to pay salaries out of pocket when nothing is being earned. Governments while handling the great health crisis are in no position to pay for each salary.
School buildings are shut and no longer used. This means when they reopen cleaning and maintenance will be needed.
Alternate teaching methods like virtual classrooms have cost implications too. One needs an ongoing Internet connection, a laptop, or any such smart device to be online. Typically, a family will have at least one work-from-home parent, maybe up to 2 0r more school going kids. Since classes and work happen simultaneously in the day time. So how many machines can be bought in one household?
Way Forward The majority of the educational institutions have canceled assessments and students are promoted to the next level based on their last year’s performance. Here is one thing that can be helpful to communicate with parents that is use os social media. The new system of education is more complex than before and with declining interests and levels of concentration in virtual classrooms. Plus the added anxiety of becoming infected, the only way to get through this time is to go slow and easy at all fronts including formal education. Emphasis should be on creating an atmosphere of care and guiding the younger population of the world to come out of this situation less fearful and to be more responsible to