Covid exposed many educational shortcomings
COVID 19, like all other industries, has affected the education sector in various ways. Students from privileged backgrounds, supported by their parents and enthusiastic and able to learn, could find their way past closed school doors to alternative learning prospects. Those from impoverished backgrounds often remained shut out when their schools shut down.
This crisis has exposed the many shortages and inequities in our education systems – from access to the broadband and computers needed for online education and the supportive environments to focus on learning up to the misalignment between resources and needs.
This was the situation all over the globe. However, it was most crucial for the custodians of the education sector to make more informed and planned decisions while deciding about the future of the students.
Excess to the online system, network and gadgets, and trained resources were the most significant challenges.
These challenges were increased when delayed decisions were made related to the conduction of exams of SSC and HSSC. Syllabus coverage and mode of the exam with online teaching and onsite papers were a topic of discussion for many days after Government has decided to conduct exams.
Students’ behavior, on the other hand, was also the big question mark on our education system. The result is out and has again raised a severe reservation on the checking and evaluation criteria.
In nine boards of Punjab alone, the A+ result was 60%; however, the admission capacity in universities is 58%.
Now the question is, where would those A, B, and C grades go and find their future? What Government has planned for their future and dreams? One ill-informed decision has messed up with the future of our students so badly.
Those who got good marks are even shocked, so what guarantees that those who were passed with good grades are truly capable of gaining admission to universities? The burden is shifted to universities to conduct admission tests and further filter the number.
I do not know about others, but being an educationalist, I am scared about the future of our next generation. Those who will not end up in any university will end up in depression. Their time, money, energy, and passion have been wasted. We are producing demotivated youth who are full of doubt about their future. They will lack trust in their abilities and hard work.
School closure due to covid has created many psychological, adjustment, and discipline problems other than curriculum coverage. Youth not engaged in studies and other constructive fields will never be able to contribute to the economic, social, and emotional development of a society.
All this will result in Depression. A society where the youth is facing depression due to a lack of seats in universities will produce an unhealthy and depressed mindset.
Remember, we are not talking about low performers; we are talking about students who have scored A, B, and C grades. They will lose faith in their efforts.
Many families in a country like ours invest in their child education by cutting on many other essential needs with the hope that their children, after getting an education, will bring change in their life overall. Depression due to all this may result in an increased rate of Suicide.
Child Labor will also increase when the parent cannot afford one more year to invest in the child’s education. Many families are badly affected by Covid; they can’t get admission to the university and wait for one more year.
Out of fear of lacking behind and becoming a burden on their families, many children themselves look for a source of income to inject money to support families.
Early marriages may also emerge as one of the outcomes of such decisions and results, especially in many backward areas where girls who are still struggling to fight for their fundamental rights may not be able to raise their voice after they do not get admission to universities. There is a dire need to think critically before making any such decisions.
More universities, evening shifts in colleges/ universities, more programs to develop essential skills, and basic learning must be introduced to save our next generation from such disasters.
—The writer is an educationist, based in Islamabad.