Nepal | October 21, 2020

2020: A teacher’s perspective

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UJWOL SHRESTHA
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The year 2020 has become synonymous with tragedy. A million deaths. Tens of millions infected with the coronavirus.

Billions of uninfected people desperately trying to maintain a sense of normalcy in daily life – telling jokes, uploading TikTok videos, inventing new recipes, rediscovering old family photo albums –all to forget the pandemic for a while. But trying to disregard the pandemic is like trying to hide an elephant with a handkerchief.

This pandemic has shown no mercy on our educational system.

Old-fashioned teachers who cared little about using new apps, have been compelled to evolve overnight.

Adopting virtual classes for such teachers is something like giving a rifle to a caveman.

Hundreds of millions of school children around the world are asking the same question: “When will our school reopen?” They are feeling like passengers inside an aeroplane that has been hijacked by unknown terrorists.

Nobody knows where they are taking the plane and when this will all end.

Children are becoming hyperactive and impatient. They are tired of monotonous online classes where clumsy teachers are unable to follow simple instructions given by the impatient children.

“Sir! Just click the unmute button!… Sir! Don’t you understand?”

All the while there will be gangs of mischievous girls making fun about the teacher’s appearance on the screen. And then there are clever kids who know countless ways to deceive the teacher online. Parents are powerless to stop the children from using the gadgets because those gadgets are technically their school these days.

The virtual world of gadgets is full of negativity – vice, fake news, online bullying and addictive games. Alas! Children are the easy victims.

Wise men from the desert used to say: Humans always show the greatest virtue and greatest weakness in the time of a great crisis. Evidence shows that this is true. No doubt there are school children who are falling behind because there is no Internet. Others because they are misusing the Internet.

The pandemic has brought positive changes, too. Good students have become volunteers, offering free meals to the destitute in the streets. During the difficult time, Kathmandu’s children are rediscovering simple pleasures, like cooking, indoor games, gardening, reading novels, doing artwork …. or just bonding with their helpless mother and jobless father.

When parents return home like defeated soldiers after spending their last penny, those good-hearted children give them a hug to tell them everything is going to be just fine. That is real education.

 


A version of this article appears in print on October 16, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.


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