When the COVID-19 Pandemic was at its peak in March, 2020, the whole world was pushed into an uncharted territory. How was life supposed to function now that we were all locked in our own homes?
An important arena, in the same vein, was the world of higher education which suddenly had to shift to the online mode of education. Zoom was being installed quicker than hotcakes sell and in just a few weeks, the transition was complete. As a student, you were now expected to have a stable internet connection, a device from which you can access it and a space private enough for you to have a class.
We were told tales of how everyone was in this together and how we were all struggling through these, now cliched, ‘unprecedented times.’ An occasion that should have brought students and teachers closer together has somehow resulted in everything being just the way it was before. Teachers who were unreasonable and authoritarian in their approach now acted the same way in online classes and teachers who for years had outright refused the idea of modernizing their teaching methods were now being forced in to the modern world because of a pandemic.
Fast forward to 2021 and the students who graduated from a course in 2020 and entered a different one face a unique challenge. Due to the uncertainty of the time tables and opening of offline classes, the start of the academic calendar has been pushed by almost 5 months. What does this mean?
Well, a semester that was supposed to last for 5 months in a typical calendar year is now going to last just 3 months. Everything is being taught at the speed of light and anyone left behind is a lost cause before they know it. Classes extended to late in the night, unrealistic deadlines and overwhelming pressure on students is going to be the hallmark for this particular batch of students no matter which stream they are studying or which course they are enrolled in.
The sad news is that due to this high speed, neck-breaking speed of teaching, many talented students are breaking down under pressure. I have seen the brightest of students, much smarter and hard-working than me, absolutely crumble under the weight of all these things they are expected to study. Is this how education should be? Should it be just done for the sake of it or should it aim to make the students understand the concepts that they are learning?
I don’t blame the teachers for the route they are having to take. They have been prescribed a syllabus to teach in a very short amount of time and they are trying to achieve their goals at whatever cost it takes but should that cost be the students?
COVID-19 has exposed a lot of flaws in the systems that we have around us. It has shown us the inequalities that exist in our society and how, no matter how much we say we are all in this together, we are really not. The education system in the country has been broken for a pretty long time. We have known since quite some time that we have a system that encourages cramming things up rather than conceptual understanding and application of principles. The problem now, is that it is placing the completion of an ill-fitting syllabus in a hilariously short span of time which helps neither the students nor the teachers.
Everyone is suffering, no one is saying anything and that is letting this misery continue.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.