Freefall of the kids after the COVID-19 pandemic

Samarjit Kambam
The Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc throughout the world in various  arenas for more than two years. Many lives have been taken away. Many were rendered jobless. Every sector suffered with one of the most affected being education.
Online class has been the dawn of the era of a brave new world since the beginning of the pandemic in India. In fact, online classes will become the future particularly in higher and professional education. However, online class has more cons than pros when it comes from education from primary upto the higher secondary level. It is a known fact that online classes have been more of a failure. The primary level kids have hardly any fundamental or basic knowledge of education of their respective classes during those two fateful years of online classes. There was chaos and confusion in education from the middle level upto higher secondary level students also.
One area of its shortfall is lack of internet connectivity in remote areas. In fact, a quarter of the students of the state residing in remote areas face the brunt of not being able to get proper net connectivity. In online classes, the students, except the minimal serious ones , got complacent enough and the interest level in studies dipped steeply. As most of the students cannot afford Laptops or smart TVs, online classes held through smartphones were not so result oriented. Besides, the students in the name of online class have got hold of their smartphones 24x7.
Such a scenario has led the students involved in WhatsApping, Tweeting, Snapchatting, Facebooking, Telegramming with their friends and colleagues. In the name of online class,  the adolescents got ample opportunity to various visit porn sites. All such activities have led to change of their behaviour with negative impacts on them. They become grumpier, impatient, aggressive, take elders for granted, become socially inactive. Basic courtesy to elders has been kept at the backburner.
It has been associated with negative impacts on their health too. Ophthalmologists have opined that the number of visits by kids for eye examination has increased exponentially post pandemic. As a follow-up, optical centres have reaped a ripe harvest. Their bodies have become weaker and more fragile. Some have become couch potatoes. Some have become so fat to the point of getting obese. Their body endurance gets a severe beating. We can witness them getting lethargic and not respecting and loving nature. In fact, their equilibrium and flow with nature has been severely perturbed. With constant use of smartphones the biological clock of sleeping early and getting up early gets severely twisted. Physical activities and exercises have become alien terms to them.
Since the kids are getting hold of smartphones 24x7, relying on online gaming in the name of online class has become a part and parcel of their daily routine. Medical experts have opined that too much exposure to online games affects mental health leading to abnormal behaviour. One red flag about online classes is that the students hardly touch their books. Without going through their books, they are heavily relying on Google for instant answers on any subject. This is a very unhealthy trend of studying. Their capacity to go through books has jolted leading to less creativity, less imagination and less logical thinking. Even for writing a small essay which has been given as homework by their teachers, they search the topic online and directly zot down from Google, Brave or other search engines. There were instances where essays with the same wordings were submitted by some students to their teachers. This kind of practice has led to an unhealthy trend in education of the students.
Here, the difference between physical classes and online classes may be emphasized. In physical classes, the teacher can easily find out which student is being attentive and which student has his mind grazing away somewhere else. Maintenance of discipline is also easier for the teacher in physical classes. The teacher can also divert his attention to the student who has a doubt or has got something he can’t grasp as to what is being taught.
During examinations also, the students got ample opportunity to exchange answers particularly in Multiple Choice Questions. So, cheating in examinations became the trend just like some sort of necessary evil. Such a trend is an anathema in the education system. The NEP 2020 even though implemented in the education system could not achieve its marked target during the two years of pandemic.
The last two years have unsettled the education system and a generation of students has been affected in cataclysmic proportion. The irony is that there is fear going around for a fourth wave emerging in the country. Let's hope that the wave doesn’t reach our state with physical classes having the last laugh.
The writer can be reached at [email protected]