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The Impact of Covid-19 On Students

The number of COVID cases across the country are rising exponentially day by day even now. The longer this crisis continues, the worse it is going to impact the economy. Until now, it has been estimated that it would make a difference of 8.5 trillion dollars on the world economy over the next two years due to this crisis. 

More than 34 million people across the globe would be pushed into an extreme crisis because of this crisis. A huge sector which has been impacted greatly by it is the education sector. Students in our country have been demanding the cancellation of exams. Online classes have commenced in some places and some exams have already been canceled. Parents are demanding that private schools should not hike their fees. Schools, on the other hand, say that they do not have money to pay for the staff and teachers. let us analyze what the impacts of COVID 19 on education are. And what steps are being taken to mitigate it? 

Come, let us see As of 28th June 2020, the data of UNESCO has revealed that there have been nationwide closures of schools and colleges in more than 114 countries all across the world which has affected more than 1 billion students. There were very few countries in the world where the schools were not shut down. For example, Australia, Sweden, and Greenland. In the context of India, more than 32 crore students have been affected by this. Some schools stopped teaching entirely while others resorted to online classes. 

For people like us, online classes are a great solution in the short run. But it also creates a digital divide It is alright for people like us, who can watch YouTube and can avail the availability of the internet. But what about people that do not have internet available to them? Now, you might wonder how many people in India do not have the internet. The statistics will shock you! This graph shows the percentage of internet availability in rural households across various states in India. There are only two states in India which have more than 40 percent rural household with internet availability In the rest of the states, only 10-20% rural households have internet.

So, what would these people do? They cannot attend online classes. The problem further exacerbates when you realize that several families out of these ran their daily affairs through day to day earnings They have lost their livelihoods after the lockdown. So many people have been pushed into poverty due to the economic impact of COVID 19 Think about what such families would do. Neither would they have money to send their children to school nor would they want their children to go to school because they would want them to go to work to bring back some money home The 2017-18 NSSO data shows that boys in villages drop out of school midway.

The top two reasons behind this are- Financial constraints in their families and economic work. These two reasons would be applicable here as well in the COVID 19 situation. This means that when the schools reopen, the children in families like ours would go back to school, but the children in families like these will not go back to school. They would be pushed into child labor due to these problems This is a long term problem that would be created but not a lot of people are talking about it. I felt that raising this issue right now was necessary so that the governments start looking for solutions to how to deal with this right now. The second issue is that of school fees hike Nowadays, the students are already under stress. 

Stressful situations for parents are being created as well Some private schools in our country are not conducting any online classes but they are still charging fees from the parents. Some private schools are only holding online classes and charging fees despite that. And in some places, fees are being hiked which is a huge issue for the parents because you already know what the economic situation in the entire country is. According to the 2014 NSSO data, for a common family in our country, by a common family, it is meant- a husband, a wife, and two schoolgoing kids 20% of their entire annual household income are spent on the education of the children So, you can imagine what importance does the private school fees hold for the family This is why, several parents have even approached the Supreme court for a moratorium on the fees hike Some state governments- like that of Delhi, Assam and Maharashtra- have already taken action against it.

For example, in Maharashtra, it has been declared that no private school can hike fees this year or else they would have to face a penalty In response to this, several private schools say that they need the money to pay their teachers and their staff I spoke to Ashok Agarwal Ji regarding this the head of All India Parents' Association - I would first like to ask you your opinion regarding the demands of the parents the demand of not hiking school fees during this time. The schools say that they are hiking fees in order to be able to pay salaries to the teachers. What do you have to say about this? The demand of the parents is dependent upon facts. The condition of the people right now due to job losses, a complete breakdown of income, Some people are not able to pay their rents There is no doubt that they are in extremely bad shape. The majority of the parents are unable to pay their school fees The schools aren't running and the children are not studying there either.

Under such circumstances, the demands of the parents are genuine- there's no doubt about that Now, what is the solution to this? For the schools to say that they have to pay their teachers and the other staff as well, is true, to a larger extent. Under such circumstances, the best solution, in my opinion, is that the government should pay the salaries to the teachers out of the 20 lakh crore package that Modiji had given and the parents should be totally relieved until the schools reopen -So you are suggesting that the government should pay the teachers on behalf of the private schools -Yes, they should directly pay the salaries to the teachers. They might not be able to pay 100% of the salary But they should pay whatever percentage they can, having talked it out with the teachers. There needs to be a serious intervention The problem is that the children who go to private schools do so out of helplessness When the government schools do not function properly.

There was a time when everyone used to study in public schools. I've studied incorporation and Delhi government school myself But today, middle class, lower-middle-class, and even the poor people are reluctant to send their children to government schools. And having no other choice, when they are compelled to go to private schools, then... I've been noticing that the private schools, for the past 22-23 years, have been charging exorbitant fees. What's interesting is that these private schools get favors from the government as well. They're built on inexpensive lands and several things are tax-free On the other hand, they take advantage of the employees by not paying them entirely.

They charge the parents exorbitantly as well. And the government is acting as if it is helpless, unable to 
do anything -So, you could say that the private schools are at fault as well. Private schools do have enough money that they can afford to pay teachers -The budget schools, of course, are in a very bad condition right now but the large schools... I can vouch that large schools take donations of up to 3-15 lakhs per admission every year which is totally illegal and prohibited. This would mean that if there are 100 admissions, then the private school made around 3 crores to 15 crores. And then fees are hiked regularly. And as per my average calculations, the fees normally charged by a private school 50% of it is unjustified And it is not me saying.

This is revealed by the audit of 25 schools by CAG in 2010 Justice Anil Dev Singh committee checked the accounts of 1,100 schools in Delhi More than 80% of them were indicted there was no need for them to raise fees on the basis of the 6th Pay Commission, but they did so anyway -How do you think this can be regulated? How can it be determined what amount of fees is appropriate and what amount is not -The High Court and Supreme Court have already set parameters for that. Within the country, education is a sphere where you cannot legally indulge in profiteering and commercialization. The High Court and Supreme Court have set several parameters, for example, nothing can be taken for capital expenditure. 

Charges should only be for revenue expenditure and that too, only for spending on the children So if you spend on my child, I would have no objection to that. But it doesn't happen that way From the perspective of the students, the last few months have been extremely stressful Repeated postponement and cancellation of exams as well as the reigning uncertainty. No clarity about the cancellation of exams or when the exams would be held instead. What grading system would be used and whether it would be beneficial for the students or not. Constant online classes for 5-6 days prolonged exposure to the screens with headphones on is not an ideal scenario It is extremely stressful and leads to an increase in anxiety and depression. 

And in some extreme cases, students have also committed suicide In this case, the class 9 student did not have access to either a smartphone or a TV so she was unable to attend online classes due to which she committed suicide -Education is for the child. The child should be the focal point But we see that the child exists nowhere (in the discussions) Either all the discussion is from the angle of the benefit for the parents or for the school or the government. The child is nowhere in the picture. It is extremely unfortunate that nobody talks about the interest of whom the entire struggle is for. Furthermore, the absence of any kind of physical education and exercise exerts a very negative impact on the health of the student Eating habits and sleep cycles deteriorate and the constant online classes require them to sit all the time.

Here, I would like to recommend that you should try and exercise, even if it is at home or if you can go somewhere around the house outside and exercise in a safe manner then you should definitely try and do it. Because regular exercise is extremely essential for both mental and physical health. Online classes are not even a short time solution for the primary school kids because social-emotional bonding and contact with people and teachers are necessary for such young children for the development of the child Due to these negative impacts, several countries took the decision of reopening their schools.

For example, schools in Denmark were reopened with precautions whilst maintaining physical distancing. This is something that would need to be evaluated in Indian in the coming months. Is it better to reopen schools? What would have lesser negative consequences-  reopening them or keeping them shut? We would have to evaluate which option is lesser harmful Talking about exams, several universities across the world took the decision of holding open book exams. That is, you would sit in front of the computer to give exams and you can use the internet or any book while writing the exam And this is a good step in my opinion because the questions in open book exams, basically, force the students to think critically. It would cause them to think and answer.

The questions are not that simple that you can rote learn and write their answers. Some exams in India have been canceled completely- like the CBSE and ICSE board exams of Class 10th and 12th The students had been demanding the cancellation or the postponement of these exams for a long time. This has finally been done. But it has created some new problems The students allege that the evaluation criteria is unfair Similarly, the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) and NEET have also been postponed JEE will now be held between September 1st to 6th and NEET 2020 will be held on September 13th - My understanding says that under the prevailing circumstances, it is no problem to declare the entire year as a "Zero Academic Year" Not doing so has perpetuated tensions all around. Promote all the children in all our schools. That is, promote all those who failed or those who have pending exams. What this will lead to is that it will boost the morale of the students and the parents and this is important. That is what I'm saying. 

The news isn't great from the perspective of the teachers either. Reports are pouring in from places that teachers have been fired from their jobs in private schools. The teachers are complaining that online classes are increasing inequality between the students, which isn't good and some teachers are not even being paid their salaries from the schools -And we have a very solid suggestion. If you control the working of the school, then you can do something. We're saying that if the school runs fully on the money of the parents, then a law should be passed that every managing committee of the school should have 50% representation from the parents because the managing committee decides fees and other things So, if the parents are given representation, then the situation in the country would change entirely. 

Talking of solutions, there is a very clear cut solution of one issue as told to us by Ashok Ji. It is very important for the government to regulate the fees hike of the private schools to date, 15 states have made legislation on paper to regulate the fees hike of the private schools. But parents are involved in the school boards only in 4 states in India where the fees hike can be regulated. It is important to make a parent-teacher association and grant them decision-making powers so that they can regulate the fees hike If it is in the hands of the parents, then it can be controlled and implemented better. The rest of the states should also follow this lead. 

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