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Online Education: A Pointless Abyss Or A COVID Necessity?

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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.

I’m one of the million students who’re living in their homes and attending online classes. Who could’ve thought that our student lives would end so abruptly? As much as I miss my college life, I have accepted the current lifestyle given to me by this dreaded pandemic. It’s not like I have an option. With people losing their lives, jobs, savings, and their homes, the pandemic has shown how modern education is constantly vomiting on itself.

Quality Of Education In Online Education

Before this pandemic, I had mixed emotions towards classes. On one side, we had to deal with professors and teachers whose entitlements know no bounds. They think the entire world revolves around them. But on the coin’s other side, we had teachers who were great and helpful. They would assist us when we deal with our problems. And they also explain complicated subject matters more thoroughly. But if I have to choose between traditional classes and online classes, I’d choose the former. Because despite my mixed opinions, I’d still be interested in drudging myself to learn something.

Representational Image. Online classes are plain boring and trivial.

That’s where my major gripe comes in. The quality of education is just style over substance. We may have computers and smartphones to attend classes. Unfortunately, what we lack are proper online classes. The online classes are plain boring. At worst, it is just plain trivial. Based on my experiences, I find online classes to be a massive waste of time.

I would rather waste my time playing video games, drawing something, or writing articles than just glare at my monitor screen and listen to some unenthusiastic professor teaching something. Unlike traditional classes, I have no passion for listening to 6 straight hours of fruitless lectures on MS Teams. These classes have no long-term impact on my personality, intelligence, and skills. It’s not like I hate the subjects, but the current situation gives me no reason to do so.

I may be complaining, but I still have the privilege to use those technologies. Many children in rural India don’t even have smartphones, let alone access to the internet. The problem not only widens the gap between the privileged and underprivileged but it shows the cracks of the online education system in India.

Another gripe that I have is the online “proctored” examinations. Like traditional classes, traditional tests at least make us break some sweat to study. And you’d be scared if you try to cheat on the exams. I mean, it’s much easier for the examiners to catch us cheating. That is not the case with online examinations. Why even study at all when you can cheat without being busted. In my case, the online exams in name proctored, but in reality, they just wanted to finish the exams as soon as possible.

There are also cases of sexual harassment while the exams are going on. For example, a female student received disturbing texts from her proctor during the exam. The ordeal led to nationwide condemnation against the college management and the app where the exams took place. People also raised the question of privacy during the examination, as they have to verify their identity by showing their identification card to the proctor via webcam. It makes me question the whole purpose of online “tests.”

The Plight Of Students In Online “Classrooms”

There were times where students had to face brash and rude behavior from their teachers or professors, all in the name of “maintaining decorum.” One professor from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, was suspended after making discriminatory remarks against the students from the Scheduled Caste community. Not to be unfair against teachers, they also became the victims of constant bullying by the students. One The Print article says that some students impersonate someone else and troll their teachers. That is just one example, but the bullying they receive often impacts their mental wellbeing. Not to mention they have to face less pay which makes their situation even worse.

Despite all these problems, colleges dare to ask the students for fees at a high price. This pandemic took lots of jobs and savings from the people. Are the colleges in private so naive to see how Covid-19 dismantled the lives of many people? Or are they just too greedy to suck off every penny from the people like vampires? This behavior not only represents the dog-eat-dog world of capitalism but it shows how private educational institutions have become more like a corporation. Their apathy is creating more division amongst the students. If this behavior goes on like this, sooner or later, they’ll have scandals worse than the Star Wars Battlefront 2 Loot-Box Scandal.

The worst thing about the whole thing is? The students and even the teachers will be the ones who will pay the price of this toxic education system. I think this system has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health except the echelons in the education institutions. Not only is this system is dehumanizing, but it’s just plain pointless. It’s like an abyss of toxic pressure that is destroying the very essence of education. It’s high time that this system needs to reform itself, or it can wreck the lives of students, teachers, and everyone.

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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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