The memory of 2020 will never be erased from world history for various reasons especially Covid-19. This epidemic has been destabilizing the progress of the whole world for 9 months.
The year 2020 came to an end through the Covid-19 epidemic and the whole world is going to get a new year. The year 2020 has taught us a lot and now is the time to forget about the dilapidated backyard and decorate the New Year 2021. We all have to move forward with the expectation that something good will happen in the New Year and all the hardships of the previous year will vanish. It is the eternal reality of the nature and man to push back the old and embrace the new. Human life is in this world is very short and a year in human life is very fleeting but significant. William Shakespeare said, time is a silent killer. Even in short period of time, people move forward by inventing new things. In 2020, the people of the world may have a lot of achievements yet this year will remain a year of sorrow in people's memories. Covid-19 epidemic struck early in the year and is still continuing. Nine months of 2020 have passed through a turbulent situation. Covid-19 has taken the lives of millions and harmed many people.
Educational institutions have been closed since the corona epidemic hit Bangladesh. No one can confirm when the educational will open. Millions of students are confined in home today. The most favourite place for students is the educational institutions and they are away from it for nine months. This Covid-19 epidemic has taken away a precious time from the lives of students. Covid-19 has dealt a severe blow to the education system and created a stalemate. The progress of education is constantly being hindered. Classes and examinations of all educational institutions of the country have been closed from March 17, 2020. Considering the severity of the virus, the government has closed educational institutions. Due to the epidemic, PEC and JSC examinations could not be taken. It was not possible to take annual examinations of different classes of educational institutions. Students could not take part in the most important public examinations. HSC examination was not held and it was decided to give auto pass to the students. However, on four conditions, the government allowed English medium students to appear in O & A level exams in October-November under the management of the British council. All economic activities including office-court have already begun but the educational institutions are closed due to the severity of corona.
At the beginning of the year, the children got new books but they did not get a chance to go to schools with them. The students' study life has been ruined due to this unusual break for a long time and they are not feeling well mentally. Schools play a big role in children's social learning and that work is now closed. The education sector of the whole world is in a dire situation today. The whole education system is in the face of uncertainty and there is a kind of isolation and frustration among the students. However, due to the sincere efforts of the government and educational institutions, online classes are going on in full swing during this vacation. These classes are being run in different ways. Classes and examinations are being taken through Zoom apps. Rural students are not getting as much of this technological advantage as urban students are getting. Village students have very little access to internet and modern devices. Online classes are certainly a good initiative in this Covid-19 epidemic but equal opportunities for all students in online classes could not be ensured.
SSC result could not be published in time due and the students could not go to their institutions and express their excitement. However, the SSC result has been published late and the students have taken admission in the college of their choice. Classes are being broadcast on Sangsad Television from April 7, 2020 after the closure of educational institutions. However, it was not possible to bring hundred percent students under it and through this it has been possible to reach the lessons to 52 percent of the students. Online classes for secondary level students started from March 29, 2020 but due to internet problems and lack of devices 100 percent of the students did not get this facility. Universities have started online classes after the meeting with Grants Commission, but not all universities have yet fully launched online classes. Many educational institutions do not have the technological support to conduct online classes. Yet there is no shortage of efforts to keep the education system moving. In the field of primary education, the effort to run the curriculum through an app called ''Hello Teacher'' is noteworthy. Using this app, students will be able to learn from the teachers of their choice. Efforts are being made to continue educational activities through Radio. Initiatives are being taken to run educational activities through hotline services using mobile phones.
There is a lot of discussion going on about the post- Covid-19 education programme and the government is also going to take important steps in this regard. A number of initiatives are being taken to make up for the loss of Covid-19, including the formulation of appropriate syllabus, reformation of exam system, curriculum revision and reformation of text books. The government has signaled a radical change in the education system and expressed to ensure quality education. In developed countries, institutional classes as well as online activities run throughout the year. But a different picture can be seen in our country and our education system is dependent on class based teaching. It is easy to run online education in developed countries but not in developing countries. And that is why there is a kind of stagnation in our education sector. The number of students in our country is over 4 crore and four important public examinations have been closed for a long time. If online materials and low cost internet facilities are provided for the needy students, then the benefits will come more. Online classes and recordings can also be arranged on social media. NCTB has launched a book distribution programme for the New Year and it has been decided to deliver books to the students from door to door. However, it will be better to give e-books in the form of digital devices considering the importance of online classes. This will reduce the cost and students will be quite happy. The frustration among the students is increasing day by day. Since 14 lakh HSC candidates did not get chance to appear in the public exam this year, they have to be satisfied with the auto-pass. While some were happy with this auto-pass and some did not take it well, but the government had no option but to arrange auto-pass.
The government has taken a set of plans to normalize the education system by 2021. SSC & HSC candidates are being sent back to the classroom from next February. The government has plan to take SSC exam in June and HSC exam in July-August. SSC and HSC candidates will be tested by rearranging the syllabus. Education Minister says, results of HSC candidates will be published in the first week of January.
According to some, auto-pass is not a good solution and this auto-pass will increase the complexity in higher education. However, it is not too late for good days to come in the education sector. Covid-19 vaccine is coming to the country soon and there is no problem in reopening the educational institutions if it is possible to vaccinate successfully and when the winter is over. It is hoped that the educational institutions will open in 2021 and the activities of education sector will go well. But questions have also been raised about whether the students will be able to cope with the stress of 2020. There will be a huge pressure on the education sector in 2021 to make up for the losses of 2020. Therefore, there is already a need to reshape the education system in 2021. The good news is that work has already begun on textbooks and examination reformation to reshape the post Covid-19 education.
Students will be assessed through assignments throughout the year 2021 by breaking the traditional trend of education. The curriculum and Textbook Board has taken preparation to make a three -months assignment for students from January to March 2021 to make up for the loss of corona. In addition to the assignment, it has been informed that online teaching and video recording activities will be carried out. It is informed that the online activities will continue throughout the year even after the corona epidemic is over. The Department of Education states that formative assignments are a fair and effective method of assessing students. Since there is no option to give any number in assignment like traditional exam, it is very effective method for teaching and learning. A package curriculum is being made for the New Year. New and useful content is being made and there will be project work for the students. There are plans to reduce the number of primary books from 2021 and at the same time the content will be reduced. New textbooks for students will be provided in phases from 2021 to 2025. It is being decided to conduct continuous assessment throughout the year. To reduce the examination pressure on the students. Everything in the New Year will be started anew and the extra stress or burden of studying will be reduced. Up to the class 3, no student has to participate in the exam and they will get relief from extra burden. At the secondary level, the division of science, arts and commerce is being given up and the students of class 9 & 10 have to read the same subjects. The duration of pre-primary education will be two years. Various steps are being taken to get the students of our country out of the memorization tendency. To reduce the pressure of the conventional exams, the test of 100 marks will be 50 marks and the remaining 50 numbers will be kept for continuous evaluation.
Experts have given opinion on how to make the New Year education system better. According to experts, a community-based education curriculum needs to be introduced to overcome the inequality of online and offline education. Just as much education is needed for a community will be ensured. Life-oriented and skill-based curriculum needs to be developed to create skilled manpower. Educational resources can play a vital role in this regard. If a workbook can be made with the textbook then the learners will be able to read it nicely at home. To make New Year's education more up-to-date, technology services need to be made more accessible to teachers and students. Psychological education should be given more importance as the students have been confined in home due to Covid-19 and they are in a state of mental depression. Home schooling can compensate for the loss of students. There is no alternative to increasing the education budget to make education up-to-date. A large budget may be required to ensure quality resources, quality teachers, technical services and standard content. There must be a good co-ordination between public and private educational institutions. In the New Year schools may not have enough time to conduct academic activities, so it will be necessary to implement the home schooling and trained teachers in this regard. Teachers need to figure out how to come up with new ideas to compensate the loss of students. Although students have the opportunity to study online, they have not been able to learn perfectly like classroom and as they move up to the next class with auto-promotion. They will have to face a lot of pressure. It will be really difficult to reconcile the reading deficit of the previous class and the reading pressure of the new class. In this case, teachers and parents need to take extra care.
While urban students have good access to online classes, rural students have not, so additional classes can be taken in rural schools to reduce urban and rural education inequality. When the educational institutions will restart in 2021 after a long vacation, there is a risk of unwanted extra pressure on students from the school. Student should not be overburdened and exaggerated in the name of compensation. In this case, government surveillance should be increased and there should be government guidelines to control the pressure of intentional coaching and private tuition. After opening the institutions every school should have counseling system so that the students can come out of their mental agony. Now a communication gap is obvious between teachers, students and parents and in order to overcome the gap there must be a friendly exchange of views between them. Schools and colleges need to have sports facilities for students and make co-educational activities more lively. The number of daily classes should be reduced. Developed countries are putting importance on distance learning and we should strengthen distance learning like the developed countries.
Due to the long closure, it was not possible to take examination in higher level studies which created terrible tangle of tests. Many students are waiting to enter job market after finishing their graduation and post graduation. So, 2021 will be a challenging year for the education sector. Recruitment activities in education sector have been stopped for long time. The issue of giving special incentives to education sector in 2021 needs to be considered. Many private educational institutions and kindergartens are in dire financial straits. Many students may drop out due to financial pressure and special attention should be paid regarding this. Institutional funds need to be set up and necessary steps should be taken for the students who could not pay the tuition fees. Our children will dream of a new world in 2021 and the beginning of change will created from schools and colleges. Students need to be nurtured in education with moral values as the main purpose of education is to bring about the desired change in the behaviour of the students. It is necessary to bring new momentum in the education system and not to take it as a product but take it as a tool to build life.
Everyone expects that teachers will be dedicated to coping with the crisis of education. We need to focus on inclusive, equitable and quality education. The post Covid-19 learning environment will be a little different because many parents are now under financial pressure and they will not be able to give private tuition and coaching to their children. Many parents can pull their children out of school and put them to work to earn money. So, the institution has to take initiatives in this regard. Many students used to manage their expenses by doing tuition, coaching and par-time job and they have lost this scope due to Covid-19. Teachers registration has been suspended for a long time which will increase the teacher crisis.
According to UNICEF's 2019 data, 74 percent of educated youth in Bangladesh are unskilled. Indeed, our education system is still outdated and the quality of education is not yet at the desired level. 65 percent of primary school students cannot read Bengali well let alone English. The quality of teachers is closely linked to the quality education. In order to make up the loss, optional leave in education sector must be decreased and teachers should make notes and questionnaires for students.
The writer is Assistant Professor, B A F Shaheen College Kurmitola Dhaka Cantonment.