Page 5 - Spectrum Aug 2020 - AglaSem Magazine
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                 t was the morning of Holi, and   of 1.36 billion people is facing an   THE ANSWERS
                 like every year, I was peeking   unprecedented challenge - to survive,   India is an adaptive nation. We are
                 from behind my curtains to check   and emerge uncrushed, on the other   known problem solvers. So, it was not
                 whether my friendly neighbors   side of the storm.            much of a surprise to see the educa-
             Iin the posh society of Gurgaon                                   tion system quickly trying to adapt
              (sorry, Gurugram) were rolling around   EDUCATION                and adopt technology to answer the
              in muddy waters already. Though   Lockdown was imposed from 24th   questions.
              the distant sounds of rang barse had   March. A necessary action to pinch
              been playing since 9 am, I was not   the growth of the virus, the first   Schools started using online classes.
              surprised to see that this year, the   edition of lockdown gave way to   So did colleges. Paper checking of
              celebrations were not as much in   the second, then third, then fourth.   board exams was outlined to suit
              full swing as last year. As opposed   Schools and colleges were shut,   the circumstances. And by mid-May,
              to a ground full of over 200 people   students in hostels were sent back   details of datesheets for the delayed
              surrounded by colorful puddles, open   to their homes. Board exams were   board exams also started coming.
              beer bottles, sweets aplenty that   cancelled.                   But, this is not the happy ending.
              I witnessed in 2019, today, only a
              few groups of people could be seen   In the beginning, students cheered   THE CHALLENGES
              playing only with dry gulaal, that too   the delay in board exams, deferment   To “take education out of brick and
              rather coyly. After all, people were   of annual exams, and shutdown of   mortar classrooms” is one of the
              taking the advisories on the novel   schools and colleges. No crime there.   visions of Aglasem. The goal is to
              coronavirus seriously.           A child after all finds no joy in exams,   ensure that education is not re-
                                               and has his own complaints about
              However that was not the larger   the general education system. So for   stricted to schools and colleges - that
              picture. During a conversation with   many, it was just an extended vaca-  everyone, wherever they are, should
              a colleague 2 days later, he bra-  tion.                         get access to it. And this can be pos-
              zenly confirmed that he did not give                             sible through technology.
              a damn about the virus. After all   When little Chintu was asked by   And the times of COVID-19 have
              “beemar to padhte rehte hai, holi toh   a smartly dressed news reporter   shown just how important a role tech-
              saal me ek hi baar aati hai” (we keep   “Aapko Coronavirus ke baare me kya   nology plays in connecting people
              falling ill, but Holi comes only once a   pata hai?” (what do you know about   and enabling solutions. However now
              year). True that.                coronavirus), he wasted no breath in   that the system is falling back upon
                                               answering “Jaise diwali, dussehra bade
              The novel coronavirus though, seems   bade festivals hote hai India me, waise   online education as the sole resource,
              to have taken rather an offense to   hi coronavirus ek bahut bada tyohaar   it appears that this plan is not without
              that and decided to well make its   hai, jiske liye hume bahut saari chhutti   its flaws.
              point. This less than 100 nm sized   mili hai.” (just like diwali, dussehra   Moreover, the education system is not
              virus has wreaked havoc globally:   are big festivals in India, similarly   only about imparting education. For
              More than 4.6 M confirmed cases   coronavirus is a big festival for which   many, school is a source of satisfying
              have been reported all over the   we are getting lots of holidays!)  their hunger via the mid-day meal.
              world, with more than 310K deaths.                               Going to schools and colleges means
              The figures rise as you read this.   However the happiness turned to   interacting with peers, a seamless
                                               confusion, then fear and alarm.   flow of thoughts and brainstorming.
              IN INDIA                         Ruchika, mother of young Puneet said
                                               mid- April “When will classes begin?   All stakeholders involved - stu-
              The first case of the novel coronavirus   My son will fall behind if schools do   dents, teachers, professors, parents,
              was first reported in Wuhan, China, in   not open soon!”. Gayathri Reddy,   principals, vice chancellors, deans,
              December 2019. It was then on 30th   another concerned parent voiced   educationists, and politicians - are
              January 2020 that India reported its   “My daughter has consistently been a   actively working on identifying the
              first case. Hours later on the same   topper in her class. She just appeared   challenges in the field of education in
              day, WHO declared the novel Corona-  for her class 12 board exams and was   a COVID-19 / post COVID-19 world,
              virus to be a global emergency.   looking forward to college admissions.   planning ahead for viable solutions,
              Today India has the 4th highest   We are worried how that will happen   and implementing them at a break-
              number of confirmed cases, having   now”.                        neck speed.
              surpassed the UK. While efforts are in
              full force from all fronts, the country                          LET US TAKE A WALK DOWN THIS ROAD

              SPECTRUM                                                                       AUG 2020     5
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