Uncertainty causes students to fear about their future

Uncertainty causes students to fear about their future

Opinions are divided over the recent decisions of the state government to ban online classes and conduct SSLC exams. Credits: DH Photo

The multi-fold increase in the number of children and parents approaching counsellors and helplines only indicates how Covid-19 has upended the lives of the younger generation. No doubt, the unprecedented crisis has left in its wake a trail of uncertainties for students across the country.

While stress and anxiety are the natural outcomes of the crisis, students feel they are in a peculiar situation. Most of the students in Karnataka DH spoke to believe their problems are overlooked by their parents, society and the government, as the economic crisis has overshadowed all other difficulties.?

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"There have been several decisions or announcements by the government on education. However, the student community has not been consulted while taking important decisions that will impact us," said Pragati,?a second-year engineering student.

Educationist Shivanand Hombal agrees. "The fear of the disease and the disruption of all activities have affected children. Elders are so engrossed in other problems that?they have little time or patience to?understand the predicament children are in," he said.

With no one listening to their worries, and no clarity on what would happen if they lose an academic year, children feel that the pandemic will continue to haunt them even after the crisis is over.

"I think we will be referred to as the 'Lost generation'," says Vinaya (name changed), a II PU student, who fears?students might end up losing an academic year due to the pandemic. She feels that educational institutions?are yet to figure out the exact role they need to play in the current crisis.

Dr V P Niranjanaradhya, an academician and member of the expert committee constituted by the state government to frame guidelines for online education, told DH, "The state has?initiated a series of measures to address the situation such as continuing the learning process. As per the available statistics, there are over 77,000 schools?and over one crore students in the state."

"Children constitute roughly 40% of the total population. However, children are not counted as primary stakeholders and hardly any efforts are made to consult them in a systematic way," he added.

Also Read |?Coronavirus cases among students in SSLC exam centres trigger panic in Karnataka

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child mandates all state parties to?provide opportunity for children?to be heard in any judicial administrative proceedings affecting children.


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"The principle of child participation to get their view point in the decisions and policies affecting them is pushed under the carpet in our state. Far-reaching decisions, such as reopening schools and pros and?cons of online education, are being taken without consulting the primary stakeholders. Authorities concerned?should pay immediate attention to this matter," Niranjanaradhya said.

Exams, results, commencement of academic year - the turmoil children are going through is manifested in various forms, particularly behavioural changes.

Sixteen-year-old Vineesh (name changed) stopped talking when his?SSLC exam dates were finally announced. He had lost interest in his studies and was worried about contracting the virus if he attended the exam. When the Board exam dates were postponed in March, his parents had ensured that he continued studies at the same pace. However, after a month, they didn’t know how to keep him motivated. When they realised that the situation was getting out of hand, they approached counsellors.

Vineesh?is one of the 849,000 students who are currently writing their SSLC exam.??

In another situation, the parents of a Class 10 (CBSE) student don’t know how to respond to their child, who asks if colleges would treat him differently to students who passed SSLC, because he graduated without writing the exam.?

Some other students are worried as they hear the news that some private colleges have already started admissions for I PUC.

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No clarity

“We don’t see any efforts to prepare the students to lose an academic year. Currently, there does not seem to be much clarity on when classes will resume and there is a lot of confusion. What we really should focus this time is building up their resilience to bounce back in the face of adversity. No setback needs to define us forever and we have to teach children how to view?this as yet another event in their life. A lot of this though depends on the mindset of the parents themselves and what they are telling their children,” said Maullika Sharma, a counsellor who works with adolescents and parents.

From boredom and loneliness to concerns about their future, students from primary to postgraduate level are?under tremendous?pressure, even as decision makers continue to disregard them while announcing the decisions.

The number of anxious parents approaching counsellors to address the behavioural changes is increasing by the day. Anupama Satish, a school counsellor in Bengaluru, says, “Parents need to handle them carefully by spending time with them. It is important to boost their emotional confidence during this crisis.”

“No one is bothered about the physical and emotional well-being of our youngsters who are suffering silently. It is the responsibility of authorities?concerned to consider students’ opinion before taking a decision,” child counsellor Hema Srinath told?DH.?

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Uncertainty over school reopening

The uncertainty over reopening of schools and colleges for the academic year 2020-21 continues.?A recent survey conducted by the state department of primary and secondary education to gather opinion of various stakeholders including parents, school managements and teachers has revealed that around 80% of the parents say “No” to?reopening of?schools or to sending?their wards to school/college until there is some permanent solution to Covid-19 or at least till October.

However, the opinion of some parents differs. Several working parents opined that it is better to reopen schools as they are unable to manage kids along with their routine office work.

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The school-level survey was conducted from June 10 to 20 across the state. Officials from the department said they are still compiling the survey reports from all the districts.

Meanwhile, an online petition started by a group called Parents Association where they demand “No school until?there is a vaccine for Covid-19.” The petition on Change.org received over 4.5 lakh signatures within a few hours

Divided over?online classes

Following the complaints by several parents against schools conducting online classes even for kindergarten kids, the department of primary and secondary education issued an order banning online classes up to Class?5 and constituted an expert committee to frame guidelines to offer online education for children of Class 6 and above.

However, the online petition started by parents demanding online education has received around 95,000 signatures. Some private schools have submitted a representation to the Karnataka government demanding to lift the ban on online education. Some have even approached the High Court on the issue.

Hearing the petition filed by parents and private school managements questioning the ban of online classes up to Class 5, the High Court recently asked the state government to consider allowing online classes for a few hours every day. The hearing?has been?adjourned to June 29.

 
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