Effects of COVID-19 pandemic on Education Sector

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases are escalating day by day in India and we are just a few numbers away from overtaking the United States of America, and leading in having the most COVID cases in the world. The pandemic impacted every sector around the world, including the education sector. The worldwide lockdown affected the life of 32 crore students by stopping them from entering their schools or colleges and halting their education. The pandemic brought various challenges for educational institutions throughout India and advised that change is inevitable.

Initiatives by the Government

The lockdown compelled institutions to suspend their classes, examinations, and postpone the entrance tests, leaving the students and teachers in the confusion of how to cope up with such a situation. But later on, the concept of online and distance learning allowed teachers to teach their students via different portals. Teachers are providing lectures to students digitally through apps like Skype, Zoom, Microsoft meetings, YouTube live, etc. The Indian government also took the initiative to maintain and build a better education system during the outbreak. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) introduced an ICT initiative that included all digital resources for secondary as well as higher education. Diksha portal and e-Pathshala app by CBSE and NCERT, included all content from class 1 to 12 taught by 250+ teachers in all Indian languages. Swayam and e-PG Pathshala portal hosted content for higher education and postgraduate students covering all facility including engineering, law and management, social sciences, and humanities. Also, Doordarshan distributed free dishes, set-top boxes, and antennas in remotest areas across the country and introduced Swayam Prabha that has 32 TV channels telecasting both secondary and higher educational content.

Positive and Negative impacts

The outbreak has many positive and negative impacts on the Indian education sector. Looking at the positive aspects, the outbreak allowed Indian Education System to renovate from blackboard to digital screen. It motivated the institutional faculty and students to move toward blended learning and introduced them to the use of learning management systems like Skype, Zoom, Microsoft meetings, YouTube live, etc. It enhanced the use of soft copy and reduced paper consumption. The outbreak enhanced digital literacy by inducing people to learn digital technology. Online learning provided worldwide exposure to students by allowing them to interact with their peers around the world. It also improved the time management skills of the students. On the other side, the outbreak also has negative impacts. It hampered various educational activities by postponing the entrance tests, annual examination, and delaying the admission process. The pandemic highly affected the employment opportunities as the recruitment got postponed and the companies were not recruiting new candidates due to overall losses. The teachers and students were unprepared for the unexpected evolution from traditional learning to online learning. Online learning also increased the accountability of parents to educate their ward, which was difficult in the case where some parents were not well educated or financially stable to purchase a laptop or smartphone.

What can be done?

COVID-19 has obstructed the Indian education system but many opportunities are also grown. The Indian government and education ministry introduced the option of Open and Distance learning (ODL) by implementing numerous new digital technologies. But, at current times, some regions in India are outcast from technology and the internet. So, there is an urgent need to provide the required infrastructure to such remote and poor communities/areas to continue their education. Till then, schools must continue traditional learning with 20-30% needy students by obeying proper COVID-19 safety guidelines.