The pandemic unsettled the established ways of life. It not only halted the cycles of business and social interactions, it also brought future into a crosshair of uncertainty. While all aspects of life were upended, education became the worst casualty – one which is going to have a long-term impact.
In Kashmir, the education sector has always remained on a tight rope. Years of conflict had put a strain on the education sector but a way out was always there. Not only did education continue throughout these decades of turmoil, but it also excelled. New universities flourished. New colleges propped. The students made it through competitive exams. The pandemic, however, changed it all. The schools, colleges and universities are now shut for a third consecutive year. The way of learning has also changed from face-to-face interactions to online classes. The courses which are technical in nature and rely heavily on practical forms of learning have been the worst hit. The engineering courses have been reduced to a series of lectures with an aim to complete the semester syllabi but no focus on the practical aspect, without which there is little scope for these students to earn a job once they graduate.
It is in these extraordinary times that the college and university administrations need to innovate the techniques of learning. The teachers and professors need to come out of their comfort zones and lead. The online classes cannot even compensate the kindergarten students and children in formative classes, let alone students who are going to construct, and reconstruct, the world and its technologies. The pandemic cannot be allowed to keep the future hostage.