The year 2020 has revolutionised normal day to day processes and brought forth unimaginable circumstances. While World Teachers’ Day celebrated on 8 October entailed the generic happy teacher’s day wishes, it failed to accompany with it the feeling a familial feeling of gratitude. In the face of this ongoing pandemic, the image of teachers with chalky fingers in front of a blackboard was quickly replaced by virtually interactive classes of familiar faces in a two – dimensional interface. Hunched in front of laptop and computer screens, the pandemic tarnished the age-old image of teachers in a classroom.
While there are countless teachers found loitering on their terraces in Munnar for better network connection, or a mathematics teacher uses a transparent tray to be able to hold her phone, there are equivalent images of teachers as banana vendors in Hyderabad, or vegetable sellers in Delhi or organising and participating protest groups for vacancies in Punjab. If anything, this pandemic has surely brought forth the dedication of the educational sector the country is equipped with the help of these warrior-like teachers.
Without any warning or prior training, these teachers have had to shift to the virtual world almost overnight. The impact of this pandemic has been a large scale in the educational department in India and the world alike. While teachers have found themselves at a loss when forced to adapt to new technology, a report published by the United Nations state that 194 countries have been affected, and a total of 1.6 billion learners are at a loss. About 99 per cent of students from low-income families and 94 per cent of students from developing countries have been vastly affected by the sudden shift in paradigm.
Online education has not quite been as effective as desired in India. A survey undertaken in April states that the internet infrastructure in India is still not well equipped for online education to take over. More than two-thirds of the population use a mobile hotspot, with problems like poor network connectivity. Additionally, India’s historic GDP drop by 23.9 per cent along with fiscal pressures in developed countries indicate that India’s and several other developing countries road to recovery of educational infrastructure is going to be really slow.
The teachers as well lack basic information and learning facilities to adapt to this new technique. Whatever is available, is limited to the privileged. Additionally, the same teachers have been adversely affected by late payments, job losses, salary cuts, and payments by the hour. This teacher’s day, while showing gratitude, ask the teachers what do they really want. The focus of the education policies now needs to shift towards a focus that determines the social and emotional welfare of the teachers during a crisis like this.