Wednesday, January 26, 2022 | Jumada al-akhirah 22, 1443 H
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Optimism is returning, kind of...

Now, it is time to reverse the clock and back to in-presence attendance

Traffic jam, cues, questionable driving attitudes, overcrowded car parking, and big smiles. Life is back on campus. One can feel the vibe. With the return to ‘almost normal life’, it is also time to re-evaluate the achievements of the three semesters of remote studies. Not talking about academic research on how well or not the online courses were managed, but about a mindset of transformations.

Following the 360 degrees changes from in-presence to remote studies - when institutions, students, and parents were not prepared for the challenges of technology and a disciplined routine of home studies - it was as if the world turned upside down.

Now, it is time to reverse the clock and back to in-presence attendance. Undeniably, administration, management, teaching, and studies cannot be the same as the pre-pandemic. It is not because students are back in classrooms that ‘the way it used to be’ should be the same. Even though, there are students – and perhaps instructors - who are attached to the previous way of processing education, and information.

However, there is a need for a forward-thinking approach. Preparing the youth for a more challenging and competitive way of life is not easy. In tomorrow’s world, the future is now. We cannot just tick boxes. From business to education, health, privacy, security, and travel, the world has changed. If for the better or the worse, it is difficult to say.

When evaluating the past year and a half, it comes to mind that the youth need a positive therapy treatment, and a clear guidance. They are disillusioned, yet, hopeful. The future is uncertain either because of education, or the environment, or whatever. It would be questionable, and regrettable, if students are provided with irrelevant educations, and not given the chance to develop their potentials.

The mindset needs to change. For example, in the middle of the complete lockdown, there were students who used social media to write that they would be “ready to do assignments every day but wanted their lives back to normal”. Now, that they are back to classrooms, some are asking for “not many assignments”, or voicing that they ‘don’t want a C grade; it has to be higher’. The ‘I want’ mentality seems to be tough to eradicate. When asked why the grade is more important than knowledge, the answers skirt around the understanding that it will help them land a job in the public sector.

Well, when employers complain that graduates are not prepared for the job market, then, educational institutions need to evaluate their role in society. In fact, institutions should scrutinize the what and the how they are ‘preparing’ the youth. Providing skills? Developing knowledge? Preparing them for the real world?

Students, at all levels, have experienced intense anxieties, and perhaps, a variety of difficulties that they were not prepared to face. Still, in back to ‘almost’ normal life, they should not be patronised. They deserve to be treated as smart and respected goal-oriented individuals. The return to campus is greeted with big smiles, plenty of social life, building new relationships, and working collaboratively. The optimism in the air is almost palpable. However, it is time to consider a new format for academic, and technical professionalisation studies.

For those leaving the university and entering adulthood, there is a new world out there to conquest, and to grow. They are slipping the ‘back to classroom’. So, the graduation ceremony would be the most anticipated moment. On this occasion, everyone flows with emotions over the years of dedication and everything they have lived through; the best years of their lives. It is a rite of passage. The pandemic has robbed them of this wonderful experience. That jolly moment will be forever missed!

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