Lockdown Blues: The Dilemma of Guwahati’s High-Schoolers
Nilabh Kashyap, who was appearing for the HSLC exams said, “I have still one paper left. I am not sure when the exams will be conducted again. I study for that paper but I am also taking online coaching classes to prepare for class XI. And I am not sure when will I take an admission and where.”
For Rishi Baruah, who had always wanted to pursue higher studies abroad, those are distant dreams now. “I wanted to do my graduation from Delhi University and then shift abroad. But I am not sure if I can go to even Delhi this year,” he said.
For students who were appearing for their 10th and 12th board examinations, things came to an abrupt halt. Many are yet to finish with all their papers.
In normal circumstances, students who had appeared for the final boards spend their days after the examinations planning on their next phase of life: new schools, dreaming of calling oneself a college or university student and looking ahead boldly at the much anticipated adulthood. Colleges and universities are searched for, many dream of moving to new places, make plans with ‘besties’ and old gangs to join the same institutions and explore life.
But neither are these times normal nor the worries of the students the same.
For those who are not done with their examinations, these holidays are troublesome. Whether to prepare further for the remaining papers or worry about the new admissions? Many aren’t even sure whether they will get another chance to meet up with old pals before they go their separate ways.
“I could not even meet my friends from schools. We made so many plans for after the exams as we were busy studying hard last year. I don’t think that will be possible now. My school life just ended,” said Nilabh.
“I cannot deny that India is doing better than many developed countries which I had imagined to be far superior. Even if I cannot go outside India, I can happily pursue my dreams here,” said Rishi.
The parents of these young Guwahatians are pretty firm in their belief that the health of their children come first.
Rishi’s father said, “These tough times teach us how to be united and work for society. I am worried about my son’s future and so are all other parents, I believe. But without good health I don’t think just higher degrees will be of any help.”
According to him and most other parents, studies can always be undertaken after the pandemic is over and the country is in a much safer situation.
“Our children are the future of the country. And this is a good time to see and learn for themselves what it is to be a responsible citizen. My son wants to be a civil servant. I know it won’t be possible to have regular classes even when the lockdown is lifted. I don’t mind that. Students can always work a little harder when times are back to normal and attend a few more hours of classes. It is for their own benefit,” said Manshi Kashyap, Nilabh’s mother.
Manashree Das, a student of class XII in the science stream, was worried more about her practicals. “I am not sure how we will learn the practical experiments. When experiments are done many students clutter around and the teacher shows us the experiment step-by-step. But we will have to maintain social-distancing now. Will it be possible?”
While most students and guardians do not wish to lose an academic year, everyone has agreed that health comes first.
Rishi’s father, who works for LIC suggested, “We at LIC have been asked to attend office every two days as only 33 percent of the employees are allowed. Can’t a similar formula be applied to the schools and colleges? Students of each class can be divided into two to three groups and each group can attend class alternately. The school hours can be extended. I don’t think any parent will have a problem with that.”
Some parents also wanted the syllabus to be shortened.
Manashree said, “I don’t mind attending online classes for the theory lessons. Although it is unlike the classes we attend at school and difficult to understand, it gives us a lot of time to see the videos over and over again. Also I am getting lot of time to do other interesting things, to pursue my hobbies.”
“But I would ask the government to allow us to attend practical classes. I want to be a doctor and the biology practicals are very important for me,” she added.
Although online classes have benefitted a majority of the students as almost all private schools of Guwahati are conducting online lessons, many students are also facing difficulties due to internet issues. However, students from outside the city and mostly from the rural areas of the state have complained of being left behind as they could not attend these online classes due to lack of internet or some even due to non-availability of proper android phones and laptops.
At some point the government needs to open up schools and colleges. However, taking up suggestions from the students, guardians and teachers, measures could be taken on how to maintain social-distancing alongside the continuation of regular curriculum.
Students of higher classes are at a crucial stage of their academic life. However, they do understand the gravity of the situation. Many have come up with feasible ideas like online classes for theory and only practical session at schools, more study hours, shorter syllabus etc.
They are ready to accept the government’s decision for their future that would be made keeping the containment of the deadly virus upfront.