The education sector is one of the most impacted by the pandemic. It is faced by challenges that have no easy answers as the academic year pans out, marred by utter chaos and losses all around. The uncertainty of the times as the virus marches on unrelentingly has prompted frequent changes in policies regarding various aspects. Principal concerns such as the reopening of schools and colleges or the holding of exams, collecting fee or holding virtual classes defy general or quick-fix solutions in the absence of a common denominator. In our vast and diverse country, there is hardly any family that is unaffected by the unfolding situation. From the primary to the tertiary levels; from the poor migrant child displaced from his school to the privileged student aspiring for an education abroad; from the pupil in a remote village lacking access to digital devices or the ordinary student in a town whose parents have been rendered jobless, the virus has indeed dealt a sweeping blow. It is the lucky few who are having a semblance of learning as they log in to online classes.
Naturally, these dire circumstances have also shaken the institutions of education — schools, colleges and universities — as they grapple with the trying times. With no government aid or relief forthcoming, many a private college and school have been forced to shut shop. Some schools have the onerous task of forcibly collecting fees from parents to remain in the reckoning. In the process, it is the teachers who have had to bear the brunt. The educators have been expected to rise to the occasion by mastering the science and art of taking classes online even as they suffer pay cuts rampantly. Then, to secure their jobs, some private schools have put the onus of enrolling children and collecting fees on the beleaguered lot. It speaks a lot for their distress as they venture out at risk of catching the virus.
It is time the government looked into the catastrophic financial stress that Covid-10 has dealt on the private education sector and think of ways to save it from ruin. At stake are millions of educators and students as well as their parents.
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