Corona Virus

COVID-19 and the present circumstances

Corona virus or Covid 19 has been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The disease has claimed several lives and has infected millions of people globally.

What is Corona virus?

The term corona virus refers to a family of viruses which can cause a series of illnesses in humans ranging from common cold, fever, cough to respiratory failure in severe cases. It is fatal and life threatening for some people who have low immunity levels. It is named as corona virus owing to its shape which is in the form of a crown with protrusions all around. The outbreak of corona virus is believed to have occurred in a market for illegal wildlife in the city of Wuhan located in central China.

Impact of Corona virus on Education

Covid19 disease is rapidly spreading across the globe. This spread has led to far reaching consequences beyond the spread of disease itself. With more than a third of the global population being placed under lockdown; the pandemic has resulted in a global recession which is claimed to be the largest in the history of mankind.

In the field of education, there is widespread closure of schools and universities across the world. According to a report, this closure has affected the lives of 1.5 billion students worldwide, accounting to 87% of people who have enrolled themselves in numerous courses. The corona virus pandemic is likely to cause losses in terms of dropout rates and learning outcomes. There exists fewer opportunities when it comes to learning from home for students. School and University closures have far reaching economic and societal consequences as well.

The impact is more severe for disadvantaged children and their families. It can lead to interrupted learning, and consequent economic pressures on families who cannot work. According to the current situation, there is an existing uncertainty over the reopening dates of schools and colleges .Also, these months are considered to be crucial for education sector as entrance tests of numerous universities and various competitive exams are held during this period. This can affect private universities adversely. The faculty associated with these universities are forced to face salary cuts. Their bonuses and increments can also get affected due to a lack of new admissions.

Also the universities get impacted in terms of a slowdown in student internships and placements which in turn can lead to lesser admissions and lower fee collection which may affect the working capital of institutions. The operations pertaining to student counselling also gets affected. The quality and excellence of institutions garnering education can take a hit as the organizations may pause faculty hiring plans for existing vacancies due to lockdown. The teaching and assessment methodologies which are commonly followed in educational institutions will be affected drastically resulting in a loss for students due to closure.

In the long run there will be a decline in international higher education as well because many countries are badly affected by Covid 19 and hence students are thinking twice to take admissions in these countries.

Alternatives for interrupted education

Students and teachers have to opt for digital learning in order to combat the effects of corona virus on education. For this internet connectivity is a must in homes. Students belonging to low income groups and those with disability can make use of distance learning programs which are available aplenty in India. Educational institutions should pitch in and provide support for digitalization for both students and faculty members.

Many online platforms have come forward to offer free and paid services to students in this testing period. Several global platforms are also providing free access to their courses online especially for students who are wishing to pursue higher education. To mitigate the effects of the pandemic on job offers, internship programs and research projects, measures should be taken.

The HRD Minister of India is advising students to make use of several online platforms to continue their studies. These platforms are ensuring that students are able to access class lessons and there is no hiatus to education in the country due to the breakdown of the Corona pandemic. Some of the private portals like Coursera are offering 3800 free online courses to the unemployed youth. UNICEF and Microsoft have come together to launch a portal called Learning Passport in order to promote digital learning. Khan Academy is a free education portal for Students, parents and teachers which enable them to take lessons from the comfort of their homes. If you intend to learn new skills by being at home during the Covid- 19 lockdown you can enrol yourself with Udemy which is conducting free online courses. AICTE has launched the ELIS portal to facilitate e-learning among students. You can also join the free online courses launched by Harvard University and enhance your skillset.

Some of the portals launched by government of India to facilitate e-learning among students are

  • SHAGUN – Under this online junction the department of School Education under the guidance of government of India has launched several e-learning platforms in all states and union territories spread across the country. The main aim behind launching this initiative is to facilitate both students and teachers with a platform where they can interact with each other through digital medium for future learning. Under the purview of Shagun there are three e-learning platforms. These include
  • National Repository of Open educational Resources (NROER)- It is an excellent initiative launched by the Ministry of HRD and has 16000 registered users and 14527 e-learning resources. The NROER platform facilitates students to get exposure to e-courses, e-books, e-libraries and provides them with a chance to take part in online events .For the benefit of students from across the country the website is available in both English and Hindi languages at present. The website also has a feature through which students can test their skills by means of assignments.
  • DIKSHA – To equip teachers from class 1 to class 12 in the field of e-learning , the Ministry of HRD has launched National Digital Infrastructure for teachers called DIKSHA. The platform is designed to supply learning material for both teachers and students. The aim of this portal is to ensure that students do not miss out on learning even in difficult conditions such as that of Covid- 19 where physical classroom learning is impossible. The website is available in various languages and has more than 80000 e-books for class 12 students.
  • e- Pathshala – By making use of this web portal, students from class 1 to 12 can access 1886 audios, 2000 videos 696 e-books and 504 flip books. This platform by NCERT is available in several languages and the organization has ensured that students do not miss out on any important concept taught in the class by means of this website.
  • SWAYAM – SWAYAM provides study material at a single destination and is an initiative of GoI for students from class 9th to 12th.Additionally it is also helpful for students who are interested to pursue undergraduate and post graduate level degrees. The website comprises of study materials in the form of reading material, video lectures, self assessment tests, online discussions and doubt sessions. National coordinators such as AICTE, IGNOU, NCERT, NPTEL, UGC, IIMB, CEC etc. are associated with this website and provide updated and very good quality content to aspirants. The courses in this portal are offered free of cost but in order to get a certification you have to pay a minimum fee.
  • Swayam Prabha – This comprises of 32 DTH channels which run 24*7 for the benefit of students. The INFLIBNET Centre which runs these channels obtains content from some of the top educational bodies such as IITs, UGC, NPTEL, CEC, NIOS, IGNOU and NCERT. Aspirants studying in classes 1 to 12 and also those pursuing UG and PG courses can get access to interactive learning through this medium.
  • National Digital Library of India – It is run by the Ministry of Human Resource Development under its National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT)and provides content for school students and students pursuing higher education including PhDs.
  • National Academic Depository – It is run by UGC and has tie ups with 55 school boards, 359 state universities, 123 deemed universities, 47 central universities and 260 private universities.

Thus the digital world and e-learning initiatives are expanding their presence globally; Students can thrive by making use of these resources especially during this outbreak of Covid-19 and prevent themselves from obstacles which are present in their path of learning.