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Students Share What They Think About Online Classes, And It’s Not What You Expected!

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

Eight months since the centre imposed a nationwide lockdown to contain the global pandemic, the uncertainties of college students regarding their results and career do not seem to diminish. This once in a century outbreak has not only kept them away from the place that they had been accustomed to going every morning since the age of 4-5 but has also compelled them to stare at their smartphone and laptop screens for hours.

Although there was no other alternative to prevent students from losing the year when the pandemic broke out, continuing with it for such a long time despite several reports highlighting its inherent flaws and inefficacies, calls for serious intervention from authorities. Proper precautionary measures need to be set up in accordance with UGC guidelines released recently for reopening of universities.

UGC recently released guidelines for reopening of universities. Representational image. Photo: The Indian Express

“I have been attending online classes for 6 months and I just don’t want to do it anymore. I miss the good old days of offline classes”, says Nitish Jaiswal, an MCA student of Chandigarh University when asked about the decision of Punjab and Karnataka government to reopen colleges for final year students as well as postgraduate and research students of technical courses and whether students will attend offline classes if given an option or will continue with the online mode.

As the government has allowed almost all the sectors of the economy to reopen bringing back life to ‘new normal’ and UGC has also left it up to the discretion of heads of institutions (in centrally funded institutions) and respective state governments (for state universities and private ones) to resume offline classes, their complacency towards bringing the teaching-learning experience to the physical mode needs serious attention, else, the students will end up unemployed even if they complete their ‘education’ online.

This is so because colleges do much more than impart bookish concepts; they groom naive minds of teenagers into scientific and rational humans besides developing their vocations through several societies and fests.

The pretext of the government’s commitment to prioritizing the life of students over studies does not resonate with its actions.

The outright defiance of social distancing norms in the recently concluded Bihar elections and the subsequent victory celebrations at the BJP headquarters in the national capital, in the presence of the honourable Prime Minister of India, is a testimony to the ‘commitment’ of government towards minimizing COVID-19 infections and life.

“The current pandemic surely has taken a toll on different tiers of education. The biggest problem was the shifting of teaching pedagogy from conventional to online and electronic methods which surely was the need of the hour but didn’t benefit all students because of the already existing socio-economic inequalities. I am personally suffering from very poor internet connectivity in our area and so I am not able to attend classes regularly”, says Sharique Azmi, a 3rd-year student, studying Geology at Aligarh Muslim University.

Representational image.

A recently conducted field survey by the Azim Premji University titled, Myths of Online Education revealed that more than 60% of the respondents enrolled in a government school, across 26 districts of 5 states chosen for the study, could not access online education. This corroborates the agony of thousands of students throughout the country who are unable to access online lectures either due to fluctuating internet connectivity, lack of smartphones, poor electricity supply and personal space for attending these classes from home.

Another survey by the National Statistical Office (NSO) conducted between July 2017 to June 2018 noted that on an average, only 24% of Indian homes had an internet connection, while the relative figure for the rural homes dipped to 15%.

Expecting the government to bridge the glaring digital divide by providing undisrupted internet connectivity and data to the unprivileged and marginalized students coming from the countryside would not only be unrealistic but also ironic in a country which is technically in recession and has failed to provide two square meals a day to lakhs of its citizens as revealed by its rank, 94, in a list of 107 countries (even behind Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh) in Global Hunger Report 2020.

Another student, Siddharth Singh, pursuing masters from the University of Delhi says, “Scientists have stressed on the fact that COVID-19 is here to stay for a long time. People need to continue their work with the utmost precautions. If colleges open, I will be definitely attending the classes as the online mode is not as satisfactory as the offline one for me. We need to gear up ourselves for the ‘new normal’.”

Since the COVID-19 vaccine is unlikely to come before spring as Drugmaker Moderna pointed out recently and the government has denied declaring this a zero academic year, the student community hopes to attend offline classes soon with proper precautionary measures in place.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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