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Virtual Education in times of Corona

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By: Mudasir Ali

Since the outbreak of this deadly COVID-19, countries have announced lockdown for controlling the pandemic and as a result business establishments, government and private offices, restautants, hotels and parks as well as educational institutions have remained shut to attenuate number of positive cases. People, in general, showed cooperation and continue to do so in the face of this growing pandemic and firmly abide the safety measures announced by the health organizations as well as respective administrations.

However, such prolonged lockdowns largely affected labor class who lost even the little access to basic amenities that they had pre-Covid-19. It is a testing time for all and having been strictly confined to our homes for three months, there are numerous issues of the middle class and lower middle class that might surface very soon. We have been psychologically depressed and feeling uncomfortable on account of continuous lockdowns.

The issue is much larger for those who are economically weaker and have been facing several problems throughout. Many amongst us fell into trauma as they could not cope with the situation. There has been a surge of positive cases ever since the pandemic first appeared without any respite and more and more people are getting affected many many lose their lives every day.

The prolonged lockdown has virtually paralyzed world economy and scaled down National GDP’s. This was unexpected that the virus would have long term consequences and will nearly imbalance the world economic order in about a few months. Each class of society somehow has faced this situation in equal magnitude but those who are living at the margins are the worst hit.

In Kashmir, like in any other part of the world, the pandemic forced a lockdown and besides other things our educational institutions too were closed and remain closed till date. However, the loss to our education sector is far greater than others as we have been witnessing prolonged shutdowns and Hartals for nearly a few decades now. Our peak academic seasons are always halted badly by political turmoil.

Virtual Education has achieved a global recognition in which students are engaged through online classes. It is defined as education that uses one or more technologies to deliver lectures to students from long distances. It brings students closer to get education from his/her teachers. Virtual education exists all around the world and students feel very comfortable to attend online classes.

Teachers at elementary school level have rigorously shown full dedication in teaching students by using Learning Management system (LMS). Educational sector in Kashmir has successfully carved out a niche in virtual education as well even though there are several issues that are indigenous to us.

The LMS is the recently launched software by Directorate of School Education of Kashmir in which teachers and the students at the same platform come together clubbed with digital resources. Teacher can upload educational video, E-content, assignments and it is a two way communication. So far 39 schools have been registered on pilot basis in district Ganderbal and in coming days more and more schools shall be covered by this LMS scheme. This scheme is a mini website of a particular school.

Chief Education Office of district Ganderbal deals with the Primary, Elementary, secondary & Senior Secondary Schools of education. They have many responsibilities on their shoulders regarding the educational system and are playing a wonderful role in imparting education to students in the midst of COVID-19.  Learning Management system (LMS) works under the concerned CEO of the district with his full guidelines. However, Chief Education Office Ganderbal, coordinated Resource Group has facilitated it by increasing its networking area to zonal branches with which many government schools have come into the fold. There is a network of officials of the department who are working tirelessly to make this a success.

In remote areas teachers have little or no accessed to such a liberty due to networking problem. Students who live in those areas might have faced hindrances to avail the benefits of such an efficient programme. The recent tweet of commissioner secretary, education Dr. Samoon asking local teachers, masters, lecturers to start community schooling in open spaces seems to be a reasonably good option in such places only if all the health guidelines are followed well.

The Author is a science student.

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