Visuals by: Kunal Kaustav Duwarah
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we are learning, our lives have been turned upside-down by a virus that has redefined the term “normal”. From hanging out with friends to arranging zoom calls, we have surely come a long way. The education sector has been hit hardest by the pandemic, leaving students totally lost.
Although schools and colleges started reopening at the beginning of this year, they were closed again due to the second wave of Covid-19 that hit more like a tsunami.
Blended Mode Learning in HEIs
University Grants Commission (UGC) has recently released a notice regarding the implementation of the blended mode of learning in higher educational institutions (HEIs). This means that HEIs can teach 40% of any course online and the rest 60% can be taught offline. Thus, it will be a mixture of offline and online modes of learning. This is just a draft concept and the commission has asked for suggestions.
Following this, a huge debate has emerged on the real-life application of the blended model. Although it sounds promising, is it possible in a country like India where access to technology depends on so many factors. We are well aware of students who don’t have enough money to support their education. Expecting them to have access to the best quality internet connection and electronic devices is completely meaningless.
Similarly, students residing in hilly areas suffer from a poor internet connection and a lack of proper resources. At the same time, we should not ignore the mental burden on students that is very hard to deal with. Coping with death, anxiety, academic pressure and unrealistic expectations has become a part of the daily life of students.
The All India Federation of University and College Teacher’s organisation (AIFUCTO) has criticised the notice of UGC has termed it as ignorant to the plight of students which further extends the already existent digital divide. Similarly, student bodies have sent a petition to the President of India opposing the notice and bring to light that online education cannot replace classroom teaching and learning.
The pandemic has brought forward an unsympathetic education system that forgets to look at students as living, breathing humans and not robots who are programmed to complete tasks. The blended mode of learning ignores students who are far away from the utopia of a digital world. It’s time we see that.