Rayees Ahmad

Education during Covid-19: Community classes are of great help

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Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan China during December 2019 and its fast spread in almost every part of globe, the world has been caught up in a situation never experienced before in recent past. With the announcement of lockdown across the globe, the colourful life came to a halt. Every sector got badly affected. Even the economically sound and developed nations couldn’t bear the damage caused by the invisible enemy of humanity. Poor people found it very hard to earn from hand to mouth. Patients couldn’t reach hospitals due to disappearance of traffic on roads. Economy of almost all the countries tured sluggish. However the most affected sector is the education sector because educational institutions were shut in view of the chances of Covid-19 spread among the children.

Government machinery as well as teaching community of valley like in other parts of globe, geared up themselves to come up with some sort of an alternative to compensate the academic loss of students. So teaching through internet via various modes was initiated. Soon the government made it mandatory for every teaching official to download Zoom app and restore teaching through it. Inspite of lots of challenges in valley like restriction of internet speed to 2G level, sometimes suspension of internet for days together or further throttling its speed, the teaching community instead of piling lame excuses of internet issues dedicated themselves for this noble mission of teaching online. Students who could afford the smart phones and where the internet wasn’t suspended frequently got benefited by this endeavour.

On daily basis the educational institutions conducted online classes through Zoom app, Google classrooms etc with the intention to minimise the academic loss of students. Every institution instantly framed the timetable of teaching officials and they were directed to conduct the online classes according to the framed schedule. After conducting classes for more than two months, the online assessment of class 8th was successfully held in previous month. These days the online assessment of class 10th is being conducted successfully. Teachers left no stone unturned to prove online teaching a blessing in times of prevalent pandemic.

After lockdown when the government initiated to ease restrictions on public movement and started to unlock in phased manner, teaching guild came up with a new initiative of students outreach program. To solve their problems face to face and to get acquainted about their aspirations, the teaching community started the new idea of community classes outside the real classrooms in the lap of nature. This not only has benefited the students but teachers also find it a good alternative in times of COVID-19 to help students. Community classes are proving much better than online classes. In online classes besides the internet issues students often feel bored due to overexposure to mobile screens. Community classes not only provide them a chance to relax and enjoy the nature in these hot summers but also give them a hope to cope up with this challenge.

Now a couple of days before when the government re-imposed lockdown with strict restrictions in almost every district of valley, teachers are once again feeling a sort of challenge to continue the already initiated community classes. Community classes are held in noise pollution free environment where there isn’t any kind of interference from any side. The interaction is only between students and their teachers. So continuing these classes amid re-imposition of lockdown for larger interest of students’ community is of utmost importance in order to mitigate their sufferings.

Various government agencies must show due cooperation in this regard and help teachers in this good endeavour. Instead of issuing orders to windup the community classes, teachers must be encouraged to keep this process intact and parents should ensure the participation of their wards in community classes. However, while attending these classes, wearing mask, maintaining social distance and following SOP’s is in the better interests of students. Government during these tough times should allow teachers to move from their residences to their posting places. Some teachers are posted in far off districts from their residences, they should be given special passes to ensure their attendances in community classes. Community classes can prove a blessing and an alternative to real classroom teaching if both students and teachers dedicate themselves in this endeavour.

– The writer is a government teacher and hails from Berigam Qazigund.

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