Covid-19 outbreak & impact on tertiary education
The outbreak of coronavirus pandemic is triggering the tension among the students and guardians across the country as the closure of educational institute is expected to be prolonged more.
It would not be over-saying to state that the closures and lockdowns may play havoc with the academia in the country as well as in the world.
Though the closure of the academic institutions is temporary, must make them suffer a core hindrance in the implementation of the academic calendar and plunge deep into session jams.
Millions of job seekers are on stressed in fear of being unemployed especially who are very close to their age limit thirty years. The recruitment process of private and public sector is stopped for long due to alarming infection of corona virus.
The undergraduate final level and masters students are also in trouble for prolonged academic year as in the country the numbers of job seekers is several times more in proportion of vacancies.
All universities have been declared closed since 26 March 2020 and will remain closed till September 2020 if the situation continues unabated, declared the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Moreover, the government concerned about the problems be setting the public and private universities and is using her best endeavors to overcome from the losses.
Earlier, the government's decision to shut down educational institutions including all public and private schools, colleges had enabled worried guardians to heave a sigh of relief about the safety of children.
Contrary, majority students of the country's public universities comes from impoverished parents and a day-wage earning families are admitted to the universities only on merit and mostly suffers from financial crisis. Those students have to support their family by doing tuition and other part time jobs which is not running now. As a result, a miserable condition belongs there to survive.
The guardians are concerned over the establishment of their children. They also seek the government's interruption so that the lost time during prolonged coronavirus pandemic can be considered while the worst situation will be lightened.
Talking to the students, they expressed their unproductive uses of home quarantine times.They mostly waste their time despite of involving themselves in learning. Talking to the guardians, they said the study of their boys and daughters is being affected badly due to the closure of the school and house tutor also went back to their village home.
The guardian along with their graduated unemployed job aspirants expressed their deep frustration about the uncertainty of getting job as times flies as age limit tends to end gradually. Besides, almost all types of circular regarding job opportunities are halted for the sake of greater interest of the public and private organization.
The experts also assumed that the pandemic will force a critical number of the population to lose their jobs and endure poverty. Some private institutions already used to cut the salary partially even some are fully of their teachers and staffs. The owner of those institutions expressed their inability and the deprived ones expressed their deep uncertainty to maintain their livelihood.
It also be expected that, many school-going students will drop out, leading to rise in early marriage, sexual exploitation and modern day slavery. Many of them might shift to income-generating activities to support their family.
UNESCO has already recommended the use of distance learning programmes and open educational applications and platforms that schools and teachers can use to reach learners remotely and limit the disruption of education. Many academic institutions are now conducting virtual classes over Zoom, Jitsi Meet, Skype and other internet-based platforms, some others have printed the learning materials and emailed them to the parents but the numbers of such institutions are quite low and not satisfactory about quality assurance.
Many initiatives have already been taken up by the government to keep the students on track.The Bangladesh government started telecasting high school level classes through "Shangshad Television", dedicated for telecasting the national assembly.
Despite these initiatives, many of the students will remain out of the reach just because they might not have access to a television and internet.
In the meantime, some universities have also started conducting online classes but it's a matter of regret that we have yet to develop any infrastructure for online education suitable for both the teachers and the students.
It's also a biggest challenge to get all the students connected to the internet which may lead the inequality and put poor students at a distinct disadvantage compared to their well-off fellows.
However, the governments and educators are coping to work out a solution to the problem to help minimize the impact of the disastrous situation on education.
It can be suggested that an alternative mode of education should be there for students placed on lockdown in a bid to ensure sustainability in the academia.
The course teachers should manage to connect their students as much as possible to any of the readily available online platforms just to render student counseling services and conduct homework, assignments, quizzes and other forms of assessment to prepare them for exams to be taken immediately after the dreadful situation is over.
The institutions need resources to rebuild the loss in learning, once they open again. For unemployed graduates, they should take these lockdown times very seriously as a part of their final preparation period to entry into job. Also some policies can be taken which may support to avoid their longer unemployment periods.
The writer is Lecturer, Department of Mathematics, Comilla University.