Education — The First Casualty 

Previously too, it was observed that authorities were prompt and hasty while ordering the closure of tuition centres and the same haste and half logic was invoked to justify the move this time  

PANDEMICS usually shatter the world order and are known for throwing life out of gear. Historical testimonies bear witness to the fact that the post-pandemic world has never been the same as the pre-pandemic world. Be it Black Death, Spanish Flu or any other pandemic, the world was shaken to its core and all facets of human life subjected to alteration. The telltale of COVID-19 which started some two odd years ago and is still wrecking large scale havoc is nothing different from previous pandemics – it is rather more grievous and detrimental.

While the global aspects of the pandemic stand thoroughly discussed and explored and its impact on economies, market structures, healthcare and many other aspects stand documented; there is a concern of a more immediate and serious nature that we shall try to engage with here.

No sooner are there any spikes observed in COVID cases that educational institutions and tuition centres become the foremost targets of lockdown imposition. Same has happened this time. The administration ordered lockdown of coaching centres in the wake of rising positivity and students were once again left resourceless. It was only after the students staged protests and expressed their concern about repeated closure of coaching centres that the state administration rolled back its decision of closing down the coaching/ tuition centres. The guideline was modified and tuition centres were allowed to operate with strict adherence to COVID Appropriate behaviour.

The episode and its precedents call for a moment of contemplation and measured reaction. Previously too, it was observed that authorities were prompt and hasty while ordering the closure of tuition centres and the same haste and half logic was invoked to justify the move this time. One is left in shock and surprise that when same administration allows marriage ceremonies with cap on number of guests, when the functioning of offices with employees on rotation is seen as ok, when transport is allowed to ply at half the carrying capacity, one is but pushed to ask as to what it is that prompts the authorities to call for closure of educational institutions in particular.

When the Right to Education stands enshrined in constitution and at a time when voices are rising high to place education at par with essential services, it becomes all the more reprehensible to shut down educational institutions and tuition centres time and again. It has almost been three years now that students are away from schools, colleges, universities and educational institutions. It has not only traumatised their minds but has made them pay a heavy price in terms of academic performance, curricular excellence and meeting the learning objectives of education. Some of them are already in the midst of their professional lives and others are preparing for their entry to the same. Can one imagine the loss and damage that these closing down of tuition centres is bringing about? With the closure of schools and other educational institutions, tuition centres were the sole centres of educational activity. They compensated, within their sphere of influence, the loss otherwise incurred by the closure of schools and colleges. But the administrative highhandedness and misjudged decisions which call for shutdown of tuition centres again and again is only multiplying the already existing issues and making them more chronic.

There are well defined measures and behavioural patterns which could have been followed instead of calling for shutdown of tuition centres. COVID is now becoming a regular feature in our lives and sooner or later we will be obliged to live with it. It thus seems more illogical to make lockdowns a norm and in particular the lockdown of tuition centres. The move jeopardises the career and future of thousands of students who are preparing for state or national level competitive exams or are otherwise in their intermediates where they stand in dire need of conceptual clarity. If it is possible to have marriage ceremonies with a cap on the number of guests, why can’t the same rules be applied to tuition centres? If transport is plying in full swing, why do tuition centres have to fuse out? The authorities holding decision making positions are well aware of the role, seminal and pivotal nature of education. It is only hoped that they will awaken to the grave issues rising out of the closure of tuition centres and devise some suitable alternatives, the prominent one being dividing one batch into two or more batches to avoid issues of congestion and maintain the norms of physical distancing. While we are already in the midst of a health crisis, steps like closure of tuition centres is sure to land us into a state of educational crisis – something we shall take all measures to avert and avoid.

Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer 

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Amir Suhail Wani

The author is a writer and columnist

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