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URBAN MUSING - Pandemic in academics

By The Assam Tribune
URBAN MUSING - Pandemic in academics
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Sk Md Sabah Al-Ahmed

One would recall that sometime around the third week of February this year, the ‘quintessential scare’ of COVID-19 outbreak had again grabbed headlines. But this scare came with a twist. For a change, educational institutions were now the new epicentres of COVID-19, rather than communities, localities or even offices. In fact, a few of the city’s prominent schools were reported to have had COVID-19 affected staff as well as students among them, though a major part of the brouhaha might as well have been a case of exaggeration – at least to an extent.

Dwelling further on this debate, a few faculty members from various educational institutes had their own take on this: Sourav Baidya, a faculty of Economics at Level Up Digital Academy, was forthright in his views: “I believe that education is an ongoing process. The system of education needs to be updated so that the fear of transmission (of the virus) might get reduced, along with any other (future) viral or transmitted diseases.” Sourav signs off on an upbeat mode: “Education is a process to achieve success in a systematic way.” Biswajit Chakravarty, a faculty of Chemistry at Adarsh Academy, has a pragmatic take on the issue: “The pandemic situation has mostly been a curse for everyone and the teaching-learning process has been affected to a large extent. It has been a challenge for the teaching fraternity as well as students. In urban areas, we have somehow learnt to cope with the situation with online classes, though I feel it can’t be as effective as (physical) classroom teaching. However, we need to keep in mind that this pandemic will be a part and parcel of our lives for some time to come. Keeping in mind this bitter truth, the need of the hour, therefore, is to make technology more effective in the teaching-learning process, so that we can tackle any untoward (pandemic-like) situation head-on.”

Dr Saumyajit Sengupta, a faculty of Physics at Don Bosco School, Panbazar, Guwahati, has put forward some novel suggestions: “Our educational institutions should be prepared to face this pandemic situation and tackle any kind of emergency. Firstly, proper maintenance of social distancing as much as possible is extremely important. Compulsory use of masks and hand sanitisers in school is another important protocol that has to be followed by everyone, including students, teaching as well as non-teaching staff. Proper sanitisation of the school premises before and after the classes is also extremely important. It is definitely possible with proper coordination between the school management, teachers, parents and students, and without creating unnecessary hype and panic.”

All said and done, from the government’s standpoint, the elephant in the room would be to show any laxity, in spite of a fall in the number of COVID positive patients. The realm of academics, it seems, has also learnt to adjust with the pandemic and as the online mode of education gradually switches over to the traditional offline (physical classroom teaching) mode, the student fraternity, along with their parents, have learnt to trudge along and live with the now and then pandemic scare.

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