Mushtaq Hurra

Zoom Education: Challenges and Bottlenecks

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COVID19 pandemic has punctured the bandwagon of life so badly that it will take years together to bring it back on the track. Global and local economies have suffered immensely. People particularly commoners are facing hardships to make the two ends to meet. No doubt, agriculture, horticulture, and other related fields have suffered a lot but  economy and education are probably the worst hit sectors of life.And interestingly,  economies have a tremendous scope to restore, replenish, renew and overcome the losses but educational losses are simply irreparable, irreversible and irremediable. It can leave deep scars on the canvas of our existence which might hurt us for centuries together. Even, our future generations will be no exception to the brunt of our academic and educational losses. Economic recession  may reflect in our food, dresses, roads, constructional projects, comforts and other set standards of lives for years together but educational recession will surely reflect in our intellectual and developmental domains for centuries together. And intellectually barren nations can’t compete with the rest of the world.

Our educational sector has already gone through turbulent times to political turmoil in our valley. We have suffered huge educational losses during the last three decades. Now, the pandemic of COVID19 could be the final nail in the coffin of our Educational system. No doubt, the pandemic has hit the whole world but people have devised strategies to minimise the educational losses. I bet, future belongs to those nations that will take a lead in education. Lagging behind in education, will put us to slavery and superstitions. We may end up as a lame and crippled nation if we don’t take a lead in education. Renowned dictator, Adolf Hitler had ordered his country men to save teachers of the nation when people complained about the mass genocide of people during world war second. Thus, it is education which can help us to tackle with difficulties and impasses.

Sensing the value of education, our own government has decided to impart online educational instructions to our children. It is indeed a good move. Besides, maintaining physical and social distances, we can reach out to our children. We can fulfill their academic demands to a some good extent. Though the move is quite new and strange for us but the future of education belongs to the technology. We should pull our socks up for virtual classrooms. No doubt,  virtual classroom can’t be an equivalent and substitute for real classroom but something is surely better than nothing.We can’t be afford to complacent or lethargic. We have to rise to the occasion. I know that our teachers are capable of producing miracles in any situations. We have proven our mettle in our real classrooms. Now, we have to prove our worth in these virtual classrooms. We can’t escape from the technology. Let us take the pledge to deliver our best on the new platforms. It will take us some time to get used to it but I am sure that we can conquer it.

Now, most of the teachers have joined the techno platform. But, the poor internet speed is hindering the process. 2G net speed is the major bottleneck in the smooth functioning of the process. Distorted videos and broken voices are making a mess of the whole initiative. It is indeed an irony to deprive masses of a basic human right that too during difficult times. The whole humanity is combatting a dreaded pandemic, and alas ! We are still busy in politics. We need high speed internet services to overcome the educational losses otherwise it is futile to brag big about the initiative. Authorities should restore high speed internet services in our valley with immediate effect to make the online teaching-learning process effective and efficient.

Another snarl in the techno initiative is the inaccessibility of children to the platform. The scenario is bleaker in our villages, particularly, the children of elementary classes viz 1st primary to 8th. The children have no know-how of the platform. In most of the cases, parents san any kind of smartphones or laptops. Thus, bringing all the children on the platform, seems quite difficult. Only a handful of children do have access to different techno platforms like Zoom, YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook etc… So, it has become imperative for authorities to arrange gadgets for our poor children. Let authorities request global agencies like UNICEF, IMF, world Bank, Asian bank, Corporate sector of the country, Charitable trusts for special packages to arrange necessary gadgets for these poor children so that our future is secured to some extent.

Directorate of School education Kashmir has made it mandatory for all the teachers to ensure their presence on Zoom platform. And it is undoubtedly a great initiative. But, some news items are making rounds on different media platforms that Zoom app can jeopardize the privacy and confidential data of a user. This news items had sent shockwaves among the teaching fraternity because our banking transactions and other confidential information is at stake. Teachers have become apprehensive about the safeguard and security of their money in banks and e wallets . Directorate of School education Kashmir must ensure the 100% elimination of such apprehensions and inhibitions so that teachers can use the app in a desired way.

And who knows, we may have to shift fully to online teaching-learning process in future. And our region is a conflict zone. Conflict zones are often vulnerable to bandhs and erratic services. Attending offices and educational institutions is often hindered in a conflict zone. We have witnessed it in the recent past. So, technological intervention can help us to protect our education from getting spoiled to natural calamities, bandhs and harsh climatic conditions. It is indeed a challenge, and will take a few sessions for us to attain the requisite expertise over the new platform. Hopefully, all the stakeholders viz parents, children, higher authorities and teachers will give their hundred percent to make the initiative a success.

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