The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have affected every individual to varying degrees. One of the groups affected has been the student community, who have had to deal with this pandemic and its effect on their families with the added burden of missing out on their education.
With schools and colleges being shut and stay-at-home orders imposed, education moved online with WhatsApp, Zoom, Google Meet and other such Apps becoming the medium for imparting education. With this, the internet and compatible electronic devices became a necessity and basic requirement for students to access their right.
Students have had to sit through both online and offline exams and both have had their challenges and effects on the students’ well-being.
According to data from IAMAI-Nielsen, 65% of the population in large cities has internet access. The figure drops to 30% in rural areas. A 2018 NITI Ayog report estimated that 55,000 villages had no mobile coverage. Even if villages and far-flung areas (and Kashmir until recently) have mobile coverage, the internet speeds are too slow to join online video classes.
A UNICEF study estimated that almost 7 million school students in India would permanently drop out of school. Girls will be affected the most as their education is seen as secondary by many in society.
YKA asked its student community on Instagram the following question:
The pandemic has been terrifying, to say the least. Having to sit through online classes and exams through this? Not easy.
As a student, what is one challenge you want help with?
A majority of those who responded talked about feeling anxious and depressed due to the current situation.
With the introduction of online classes, lethargy has crept in and students feel unmotivated. Staring at screens all day has led to fatigue. Not being able to focus on studies has been one of the biggest problems.
For many, schools were an escape from broken and abusive homes. It has been difficult for these students to focus on their education.
For those who already had certain mental health issues, this situation has only exacerbated their conditions.
Students called for parents and society at large to acknowledge, take notice and help them cope with the increasing mental stress and burden the pandemic has brought on.
With many parents losing most of their savings and jobs during the course of the lockdowns, children are concerned about their families well-being.
Students who have been unable to access online classes have had to deal with even more stress and anxiety during this period.
The uncertainty of the situation has also affected the mental health of a majority of students whose future is in limbo. The second wave of the pandemic has led to further postponement (cancellation in some cases) of exams that has further left students in no man’s land.
School students are worried about their college admissions. Exams have been further postponed and students fear their 12th class and college admission exams might clash in the future.
College students are worried about their job prospects. Not being able to properly volunteer or intern during this period has led to students feeling unprepared for the future.
For almost a year and a half, students have been unable to visit their classes regularly. They feel like they’ve missed out on an important experience. Anxiety and depression have followed them during this time.
Students who have gone through this morbid experience must be taken care of and provided with proper counselling and consultation.