Reopening universities amid C-19 pandemic
The entire world is fighting against the COVID-19 which has spread to almost every county and territory of the world over the first quarter of 2020. Since the first three patients identified in our country, people were largely staying home except for emergencies while educational institutions, most of the industries, and businesses were kept shut.
Apart from the economy, one of the worst affected sectors is the education sector. As a result of social distancing measures implemented in response to COVID-19 outbreak, higher education institutions have shifted to an emergency online learning format. But due to lack of proper opportunities, it worsened the academic stressors for huge students.
Gradually, the government has instructed to reopening every sector of the country including industries, shopping malls, public transportation even entertainment, and tourism centre. Yet there is no direction for reopening educational institutions as students are losing their academic year. Obviously, I am not support reopening of all educational institutions. I support only the reopening of the universities in limited range as there has no chance of auto-promotion.
Compared to the last two months, the detection rate of COVID-19 positive has come down from 24% to 12%. And the number of people recovering from COVID-19 is increasing well. So, reopening the universities for short time to take only final examination, supposedly, is not quite irrational as all sectors were reopened and continuing.
Higher study level students are especially prone to feelings of loneliness, and they experience higher rates of anxiety and depression compared to the general population. During this period of social isolation, uncertainty, and transitions they are prone to these negative feelings. Isolation from our social support system and extracurricular activities at the campus can cause them to feel less connected with their friends, organizations, and hobbies.
In addition, they are facing uncertainty about their graduation complement, career, and health condition. Without graduation results due to few examinations, they can't even apply for any government and private job. Moreover, the situation they are living through is stressful and anxiety-provoking, as there is a constant fear of the losing year. There are many cases where these young individuals are unable to meet the expectations during this COVID-19 pandemic situation and as a result, they face extreme stress.
Though the University Grant Commission recently has provided and instructed some guidelines to start online class but yet it's not feasible. There are many problems and limitations for which many students of the university level fail to get their online education via internet. Some of the students who moved out from divisional town to their native village cannot attend the sessions due to poor internet connectivity as well as unavailability of devices.
Nowadays, Taletalk and other mobile phone operator companies provide few benefits and tools for E-learning. Unfortunately, those benefits and tools are not very much integrated into our formal university education system. So this is the right time to reopen and utilize real opportunities. Otherwise, it may fail to bring the ultimate benefit for comparatively poorer or underprivileged students.
Stress is just one of the many hurdles that most universities students endure and it causes adverse mental and physical side effects if left unaddressed. It is not an exception in this current situation also. Most of the students think online assessment will not be feasible and similarly, they believe that online classroom is not as effective as a real classroom.
As a result, they are falling in academic stress. Tolerable levels of stress can actually be good for us, as the right kind of stress encourages us. However, when stress exists for an extended period of time, it can become a health risk. For university students, increased levels of physical and psychological torment and negative academic consequences are prevalent after the outbreak of COVID-19. How these things affect the body varies from person to person, but the common physical effects of stress that more students are now suffering low energy levels, headaches, stomach aches, and chest pains. While they fell several psychological effects of these, academic stress includes depression, anxiety, problems with cognitive, and so on.
Acute stress is very common and it is the result of recent or future stress. Excitement before an awaiting event like reopening university can create negative stress among most of the relaxed students. Academic stress still continues to be a devastating problem affecting a student's mental health and well-being.
Even most developed countries will suffer the post-pandemic effects educationally, economically, politically, and socially. On the other hand, the health care systems, educational systems, and organizational systems will be viewed differently in the near future. We all have learned from China, Europe, and, the US. Even though they are developed countries, their health systems are not appropriate for managing this COVID-19 crisis.
We all need to reorganize our health care systems, our immunity system. Research in health care systems and the immunity system is mandatory. Hence, we should move reopen our education system primarily in a limited range by maintaining hygiene. Management of the circumstance thus becomes fundamental at every level namely, personal, social, and institutional. Therefore, this is the right time to take pragmatic decisions about reopen the universities.
The writer is a student of
Public Administration Department, Comilla University