The count of CoVID patients in India is like the likes on a celebrity’s post in the Maldives: multiplying rapidly.
In a nerve-racking year and a half, campuses were shut, PDFs and e-books became the Bible and empathy became an emotion alien to the university planning committees.
As the second wave of the coronavirus drowns the tirades of those whose loved ones are at the mercy of air in a can that used to be free, the Indian education boards are anticipating dates to conduct the grade 12 board examinations.
Universities are preparing for examinations, assuming that the entire largest demographic of India would have unfettered access to the internet and be able to afford college fees in times of such severe economic recession. These exams target students who are suffering from physical, mental freight, the grief of losing loved ones, and yet sit staring at lit-up screens every day.
The mental health of students has been dismissed in the past few terrorising weeks. Complaints of students attempting examinations after cremating loved ones surfaced. Students await examination dates. There is no scope of flexibility in assignments. Strict rules attempting to make online learning successful have made it vain and apathetic: Dr Seema Singh of IIT (Kharagpur) even asked a student to be mentally strong when they wrote to her requesting holidays post their grandparent’s demise.
The inception of the attempt to ameliorate the situation should begin by understanding that although being tested positive may have become ‘normal,’ it leaves several aftershocks for patients and their families.
An interval for those affected by the coronavirus and their family is necessary to restore daily transactions. Students should be excused from all activities, during and after recovering from the virus, to ensure their safe return to the tiring process that Indian Education has become.
Universities are functioning ironically while promoting mental health (the Dean of DU’s message to students) but loading students with submissions.
The conduction of examinations should be a subjective, democratic choice in universities so that they may be fair and untroubling to the students. Ambiguity should be avoided as much as possible, cancelling exams such as the grade 12 boards, like the SATs, and setting up alternate admission procedures for the benefit of the students. The online platform for learning has rendered interaction and holistic education of experience invalid by condensing it down to the bare, theoretical minimum.
Over the year, virtual alternatives to many functions have been found and implemented by institutions but basics such as student-teacher interactions are absent. Interaction refers to a casual interpersonal conversation in a comfortable virtual environment that can act as a substitute for physical interactions. Institutions must encourage student-faculty interaction through processes like online mixers or even a simple virtual lunch!
In a time of distress where no horn can help, students have given up the prospects of loving what they are learning.
Their biggest fears have been affirmed by the curricula implementations. They just look at souls being turned into numbers and wait for a 0 to appear one day.