The Financial Express

Studies in time of pandemic  

Published: June 08, 2020 22:01:31 | Updated: June 10, 2020 21:32:36

Studies in time of pandemic   

When lives in hundreds and thousands the world over are becoming a casualty of new coronavirus pandemic every day, other pressing concerns except livelihoods are sure to take a back seat. But one major area of human life -education of the young to be precise, cannot be left uncared for over an uncertain long period of time. Schools, colleges and universities have remained closed for about three months now. There is still uncertainty over the educational institutions' reopening soon. The unintended disruption of academic activities has not only made completion of curricula in time but forced students into an unlearning process. Few of them are sufficiently self-motivated to continue their studies at home. Those fortunate ones availing online classes in cities and towns find themselves in the learning process to some extent but not many educational institutions could ensure offering of regular and full classes for various reasons. Even the University of Dhaka is struggling to bring all its students under online facilities for offering classes.

Should the authorities concerned allow the unlearning process to linger if the pandemic gets prolonged for months or for the entire academic year? So far as tertiary education is concerned, the task of bringing all university students may be challenging but not quite impossible. Universities in the public sector will have to financially help their poor students living in villages. Perhaps Apps developed particularly for the purpose may bring down the internet cost. As for the private universities, the task is likely to prove easier because of the smaller number of students and most of whom are supposed to be from well-to-do families. At this level of education, students can be given assignments at home and smart questions can really stimulate the creative urge in students to produce brilliant response, adding to knowledge well beyond the stereotypes.

At the secondary and higher secondary levels, things are likely to get a little bit muddled because of the overriding obsession with the top grade, GPA-5 in board examinations. It is more a tunnel vision than preparing students as genuine learners who grow up to think independently and solve arithmetic, mathematic, trigonometric and scientific problems and also delve deep into literary pieces in relation to human values, history and anthropology. If the education system provided the stimuli to their creative urges, students would love their studies and not have felt compelled to pursue 'insipid' subjects they fail to connect themselves with.   

Home confinement was a real opportunity for them to explore their potential. Teachers in cooperation with guardians could engage students of schools and colleges in exercises where their power of imagination could be challenged in a very encouraging way to discover what they were capable of. Text books could be a source but not the only source to create sets of manuals for different classes in order to put students to test. A panel of reputed teachers and educationists could prepare such manuals. The young learners would find themselves in the learning process and at the same time overcome the boredom of home confinement to unlock newer horizons of knowledge.

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