BENGALURU: Varsha Raghavendra is a worried mother, who is anxious about how her son Samarth Anegundi will tread the academic path after Class 10. Thanks to the current weekend curfew that is imposed due to the third wave of Covid-19, Anegundi’s entrance exam to a PU college now stands cancelled. “I am in a dilemma because, on one hand, I need to get back to my boarding school, and on the other, I also need to take my entrance exam for pre-university. Missing the entrance exam means I will have to waste a year, which I cannot afford,” says 16-year-old Anegundi.
Not just missing a year, the ramifications of the third wave for students are aplenty. Bengaluru-based academic experts observe that the rising uncertainty due to Covid-19 and the subsequent curbs and curfews are putting the academics of several youngsters in quandary. Rakesh Godhwani, an adjunct faculty of IIM Bangalore and founder of School of Meaningful Experiences, believes that a series of academic problems has translated into mental health issues for students.
“Students are confused and paranoid about their career choices because there is no sync between the industry, education institutions and the students during these tough times. It is important to introduce students to the industry right from an early stage so that they start working on real-time projects. It is time that students are now assessed and graded based on projects and discussions,” says Godhwani, who feels that students’ exposure to different working domains during the pandemic has drifted their interests into other spaces, away from what they are currently pursuing.
For Arhaan Khan, a Class 12 student, the third wave has just amplified the ambiguity in the air. “The uncertainty over the dates of the JEE entrance exam this year has thrown up a lot of ambiguity. The constant academic setbacks in the last two years are just demotivating and crushing our hopes,” says Khan.
Dr Ali Khwaja, founder of Banjara Academy and an academic counsellor, believes that parents are now divided – one section is not willing to send their children to school, while the other is worried about the lack of learning due to fluctuating Covid-19 guidelines.
“We are two years into the pandemic and we have not addressed the problems of students. It is time that teachers have an open discussion with students on how to go ahead, given the situation. I am genuinely concerned that if the pandemic continues like this, an entire generation can regress. Many of them have hardly seen the outside world,” says Khwaja.
Going ahead in 2022, Madhan MR , country manager (India) for DEfactoEd, an education platform, believes that many college graduates this year will be staring at a bleak future due to the lack of hiring of freshers. The sudden shift in pedagogy to online education has resulted in several mental health issues too.
“A sudden and far-reaching change in daily functioning has caused anxiety, depression in the student community. Based on the current situation, there is a need for a support programme which will involve psychological, organisational, instrumental and emotional support.”