It is a year passed since the educational institutes in Bangladesh has been closed due to the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. Though in comparison with other countries the infection and death rate from the coronavirus gradually decreased from December last year and the country was almost in a relaxed mood than many other countries who were still undergoing the Covid-19 woes.
But when the country is trying to cover up its population under vaccination, a new surge of coronavirus is making us think anew.
Again when the country is thinking of reopening education, the alarming surge is causing the reopening of education more prolonged.
It is obvious that in tackling the unprecedented loss of education, the online education has been a new normal for a year. Remote learning from its very inception underwent some challenges as in many cases, this new normal trend failed to make education inclusive, rather a digital divide has widened amid the learners of poor socio-economic context. As a result, the more the closure of education is prolonged, the more the chance of their disappearing from the mainstream of education.
One year back, when the country’s education went online, surveys and studies were carried out to examine the real state of online education. Articles by the renowned columnists, writers and education experts were published in the national dailies. All the things proved that online teaching-learning could not escape many shortcomings.
Last year an online survey conducted by the University Grants Commission (UGC) revealed that universities in Bangladesh were not yet capable of conducting their academic activities online due to lack of technical facilities and funds. It is quite rational that the first time the rapid shifting of education to online may have some challenges. But it was expected from different sources that with the passage of time the online education will be a model to address the unprecedented education catastrophe. But how far it has been a model in the arena of new normal teaching and learning is still a debate.
The learning pedagogy for online education is still an issue of debate to many educators. But, should we use the same tools as we would have in the real classroom? Noticeably, many are using old normal methods and approaches with no innovations to suit the new normal contributing a little to improve virtual teaching and learning.
Many questions arise. Have we been able to improve the trend of online education? How far we see online education inclusive after it has continued over a year? Have we been able to introduce remote-centric curriculum to address the learners’ outcome in a befitting manner? How far teachers and students have been efficient to access to online teaching –learning paradigm? What we have done to assess students’ outcome through online education?
Certainly, it is time to review the outcome from online education and if we see that things have not been enough developed what we expected at the very inception, it is wise to combat the challenges on priority basis in regard to enhancing the paradigm of online teaching and learning.
However, things get tougher when we see that students’ dropout has increased tremendously in the new normal education culture rather than making education more inclusive. Truly, there are many who come out with the question that once coronavirus is gone, is there any need to sustain our education online? Obviously it is. Like the new normal socialization, the new normal education will be an important part ingrained with our years’ long chalk and talk approaches.
As a teacher, it seems to me that teaching is not merely lecturing but it should address a number of stages affecting from emotional spirit to academic one and teaching in the classroom is not as difficult as it is online. On top of that, the number of affecting factors that had better be considered by teachers while teaching online and without these online teaching learning will not be a successful endeavor in most cases.
Though it is a great challenge to ensure the outcome-based inclusive education online, a policy is needed to be put in place. More importantly, the key principles for the new learning paradigm should be to address the limitations while teaching and learning. To this end, more researches are needed to see the real scenario and take initiatives to improve the paradigm of e-education in Bangladesh in no time.
The writer teaches at Prime University& is research scholar at the IBS. Email: [email protected]