Since the schools had just reopened after a long gap in March this year, the spirit of teachers and the students was high enough. The teachers were very eager to compensate the previous academic losses of the students, so was the excitement of students to get all previous academic needs fulfilled. But circumstances didn’t favour. Covid-19 pandemic again took an ugly turn and the government once again closed all the educational institutions. Now the closure of schools is being extended for more and more days in the backdrop of surge in covid-19 cases. With the result the children are once again at losing end. The people at large are against the decision of closure of schools, because they look at it from the prospective of academic losses. In modern era education is as important as the life of a person. Without education the life is meaningless. Though life has a purpose and living life without a purpose is worthless. For the purpose every body is in hustle and bustle to accomplish it. To achieve the purpose of life, education is the best route. However when it comes to decide about the priority, life is more important than it’s purpose because once there is life then and only there is a purpose of life. Now when it comes to decide about priority, health comes the first then the education. Hence to announce the closure of schools in the aftermath of covid-19 surge, in order to safeguard the precious lives of children, who are the hope of our future, has a good logic. However authorities need to come up with better alternative ways of educating children in such difficult circumstances. It seems strange but it is the fact that when government announced closure of schools, most of the government school teachers were more unhappy with the decision, than the parents. The reason is not only that they are aware and are very much conscious about the devastating effects of lockdown on the education of our future generations, but immediately after the closure of physical classes a teacher is the first person who starts facing hardships. First the teachers need to arrange things to make online teaching possible which is not an easy job and is in no way at par with physical classes. Secondly, despite their (of teachers) serious concern towards academic losses due to uncontrollable natural calamities like covid -19, at the end of the session they still face accusations from general public if “God forbid” the annual results are not good. While the fact is that teachers neither directly nor indirectly are responsible for such academic losses. Thirdly, though it seems to the people that as if government school teachers are exempted from their duties after closure of schools, but they are unaware of the fact that teachers are made to perform extra unexpected assignments in addition to virtual class work, means that they carry more work load. Every professional is very much inclined to his profession and is much interested to remain in touch with professional activities, same holds true with a teacher. Leaving aside a few exceptions, a good teacher’s satisfaction lies in teaching. A teacher is more connected to his students and always wants to add-on next stepping stones in the right track of a student leading him to his educational progress. However when teachers face issues in continuing their professional work, it lands them in distress.
For the students of elementary classes, particularly in case of government school students, online teaching is a hard nut to crack. There are several issues confronted by teachers which break the ways and means to switch over to online education, such as students lack smart phones, difficulty in motivating through online mode, difficult Time-period management (like all the students hardly get ready at a particular time for a class) and unsatisfactory online interaction. On the top of that most of the students in government schools belong to less privileged sections of the society. Their parents have mostly belonged to unlettered families and don’t know the essence of good education. They hardly bother to provide mobile phones to their children for online classes. In addition to that some parents whose livelihood is completely dependent on labouring, they need to keep their mobile phones always with them, for someone may call them and ask for work. This is another reason why some students are not in a position to have mobile phones for online classes. This having and not having smartphone creates a barrier in uniformity of providing online education to the students. So online education is not an ultimate alternative solution to keep teaching learning process continue. Though for higher classes online education is feasible to some extent. But for elementary classes, to continue the hustle free teaching learning process uniformly, authorities need to come up with some safe and workable alternatives other than online mode, like physical class with proper covid-19 protocol, odd even formula with proper SOPs, shifting schools to covid-19 free areas or to allow voluntary community teaching etc.
(The author works as a teachers in J&K School Education Department. Views are his own)