The Probable 3rd Wave of the Pandemic- The Shifting Paradigm of Education
Life was truly good before 2020. Sure, there were many hardships, but none like the pandemic that we faced in 2020.
But then, the Covid-19 pandemic hit India, one of the worst kinds of pandemic that had ever hit the country. No matter how many adversities one went through, the Covid-19 pandemic surely turned out to be one of the most difficult phases in all of our lives.
With the onset of the pandemic, life came to a standstill. As Covid-19 was a highly infectious virus that could travel by all possible means, people had to be locked down in their homes. The entire world was in lockdown, making it difficult for people to carry on with their daily activities, be it going to school, college, office or even grocery shopping. Curfews were imposed all around, strictly restricting people from leaving their homes. In circumstances like these, it had become difficult to pass days.
Among the many sectors that were affected by the pandemic, education was one of the sectors that suffered the worst. For the first few months into lockdown, education had come to a complete halt, with no one being able to figure out the best possible alternative course of action.
After some deliberation, schools and colleges shifted to the online way of teaching and learning. However, in India, online classes were not everyone’s cup of tea. To begin with, not all of the teaching fraternity is skilled enough to take a big leap to technology. Even if they do, technology is not so easily accessible all around India. Many households do not have access to smartphones, laptops and other gadgets required for the smooth functioning of online schooling.
Attending and missing online classes was one thing, but online exams brought in a lot of consequences. To begin with, there were not enough technological gadgets with every student to allow them to sit for online exams without any hindrances. And for those who did not even have the basic requirements of a smartphone or a laptop, online exams were unfortunately impossible to attend. A handful of students had even committed suicide due to their inability to sit for online classes and the online examinations that followed.
However, as online classes had to be continued for the next few months, the government came up with various schemes to help the less privileged. Many non-profit organizations also took up the endeavour of distributing smartphones to the less privileged, to allow them access to online education.
With all said and done, online education became a norm for almost around a year. Many colleges, and schools for just the senior students, surely re-opened towards the end of 2020. But in the first quarter of 2021, India was yet again hit by the pandemic, the 2nd wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, to be precise.
Once again, the lockdown was imposed all around the country. Work-from-home and online learning became the norm once again. However, this time around, people had some experience of dealing with such a situation. But that did not improve the situation but just helped a lot of people deal better with it.
The cases of Covid-19 infections gradually declined yet again in the last quarter of 2021. Offices were gradually reopened, international flights were allowed, but only with certificates bearing proof of being completely vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. Off late, colleges and schools have also reopened, even for the younger classes.
But just as we seem to be nearing normalcy, people around the globe are now troubled by a newer and a far more dangerous variant of the already dangerous Covid-19 virus. Named Omicron, the new Covid-19 variant was first detected towards the end of November 2021 in South Africa but as of now, has spread to more than 100 different countries, including India.
Even though the severity of the Omicron variant has not been scientifically proven, people have entered a state of frenzy as people affected by Omicron are people that had been fully vaccinated against the virus. In India, Omicron has already crossed the 300 mark, a huge jump after the first case had been reported at the beginning of December. To add to that, Covid-19 cases are also constantly being reported in thousands every day.
As of now, several Indian states have imposed bans on a large scale and Christmas and New Year celebrations as these festival gatherings could only lead to an increase in the spread of the Covid-19 virus, no matter the variant. Given the situation, one can expect to face a 3rd wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, needless to say, will be accompanied by incessant lockdowns and a series of restrictions.
This constant shift between online and offline learning, owing to the pandemic, has jeopardized the educational experience for many. The constant need to switch between the online and offline modes of learning has made the educational sector unstable.
Many schools and colleges that are to conduct final exams in a few months are now hurrying to get done with it before any sort of lockdown is announced. In this process of hurrying up, education is only compromised and many students are not able to catch up with the increased speed. In addition to that, the soon-to-graduate students are faced with the dilemma of new admissions and the process that they will need to go through.
However, keeping education aside, the more important question is, will India be able to cope with the 3rd wave of the pandemic, if there is any? Are we, as a country, equipped enough to deal with the severity of the situation that is to befall us?