It was a moment of happiness when schools began to function again in March 2022. All were happy that after two-and-a-half years, students were going to school. Sitting in their homes has cost them a lot. Physically, socially, emotionally, mentally, ethically, etc., they were affected to the extreme limits. So, in the hour of pessimism, it was a ray of hope. However, there is no silver lining to the cloud.
As a private school teacher, I have been observing students for two months and have come to conclude that students are receding into oblivion. It is a matter of concern that a Class 10th student doesn’t know what ‘granddaughter’ means. A Class 7th student is unable to read the Class 5th textbook. A Class 9th student doesn’t know the spelling of the word “April”.
Students are not to blame. Circumstances made them be like they are. There are some apparent causes responsible for this situation. Let us discuss some of them.
The first is COVID-19 induced lockdown. COVID-19 acted as the last nail in the coffin of the wayward educational system. In December 2019, when the pandemic struck the world in general and Kashmir in particular, there was a shutdown already in place. COVID-19 brought another wave of lockdowns, which apart from affecting everything, threw the educational sector to the winds.
Shifting to online education was innovative in nature. However, it made a mockery of education. Students were unprepared for this shift. It has many shortcomings like connectivity, recharge, smartphone unavailability, etc. In this way, the basic learning skills of the students were compromised and the result is that students have become addicted to smartphones. From a kid to the old man, everyone is seen with a smartphone in his hand.
The second is outdated syllabi. In the age of AI, Machine Learning, Cloud Computing, etc., we still tread the path of a bygone era. The present syllabi are incompatible with the present needs. Times have changed. With the changing times, approaches change. However, in this part of the world, the status quo is the order of the day.
Students are forced to learn the things that have no sanctity in the society and the result is that students are not in a position to clear the basics; not to talk about creativity and the world-class research.
The third is materialism. Students are told to learn those very things, which are job-oriented. Education has become a source of piling up wealth. A student, from the beginning, is advised to go for some readymade things of so-called education and begin to earn as early as possible. If memorizing facts means education, why go for creativity and critical thinking. Critical thinking is time-consuming, while mugging up means a clear path to success, i.e., materialism.
The last is our indifferent approach. We ourselves are to blame. At the important moments, we are unable to make decisions. Two-and-a-half years were enough for us to get awakened from our deep slumber. We must have done a lot at the local level. Islamic Institutions must have acted as the places for imparting every kind of education. We spend crores on senseless rituals. We must have spent in this sector. However, we swam with the current of the river and the situation is so bad that we cannot think of our future.
So, the need of the hour is to bring back students to the original track. It will need a lot of energy and resources. Moreover, it requires counselling, which, according to me, has taken the front position in the present situation.
Everyone has to come forward in this and has to contribute his or her bit. We cannot lose our generations in the name of education. Let us pledge that we will try our best to rescue our future.