Online classes: Afford or sit-uneducated

-by Rajsi Prasad

West Bengal: Since March 2020 students have been stuck in their homes, away from their regular lifestyles at schools and colleges. Keeping in mind the increasing number of coronavirus cases, the opening date has yet not been decided. Online audio-visual classes have been the new normal. Till now it is the safest way for the children to their education yet it is not quite easy as it seems.

“My eyes ache towards the end of the classes. However, I have to continue the classes as they are important and I will not be able to follow up if I miss it,” says 19 years old Shuham Adhikari. “I have gotten spectacles as a result of staring at my computer screen for long hours,” says 13years old Aryan Srivastav. Aryan and Shubham are not the only cases, the long-hour exposures to mobile and computer screens have been quite an inconvenience to the students.

“It is a whole different experience than the classroom. The environment is not the same and I do not get to socialize or participate in the co-curricular events that I used to as earlier. Staying at home for more than a year has made my mind dull and I find it difficult to grasp topics as I used to before. The positive side of all of this is that I get to be safe and protect my family members by not bringing the virus. I wish that everything goes back to normal soon,” adds Shubham.

Aryan’s mother complains that her child is not as serious and attentive towards his classes as before. She also believes that the examinations via online methods are easier compared to the offline ones and are weakening the base of the children. “I want to go out and play with my friends. I like tuitions but I don’t like them on Zoom. I want to attend my offline classes,” says Aryan.

The ones for whom these classes are out of the pocket to have a whole different problem. “The last time I went to school was in March. After that, I haven’t studied at all. I liked studying when I used to go to school, without it, it seems very boring,” says Prathima Bauri of Sammilliani Primary school, a small government-run school for the underprivileged. Prathima’s mother works as a housemaid and her father is a laborer. Her mother says, “It was a challenge sending her to school against the wish of the other family members and we want her to lead a better life than ours but the lockdown has drawn a huge gap between her and her studies. I am not educated enough to tutor her and we cannot afford a private tutor. The only mode of education will be the online one and we barely earn 1500 rupees a month.”   

According to experts, a third wave of the virus will be hitting us soon. The fate of the children like Prathima remains unaddressed by the authorities. Neither do they propose a plan to get back children like her back on track.