Learning without schools

Children and adults are bored to death after months being cooped out at home thanks to COVID-19. For kids, psychologists suggest a mix of homeschooling, balanced screen time, creative activities like painting or drawing and a healthy diet.

But how will our children make up for the loss of school time?

“Uncle, I am sick of being inside the room. It’s boring. I have lost my vacation. I cannot see my friends and relatives. There is no excitement and I am not even allowed to leave the house. How long can I sit in front of the laptop or TV,” my cousin’s son screamed to me last week?

When I talked to his parents, the reply was “we ourselves are frustrated with many issues from the situation”.

My 12-year-old cousin is one of the millions of children and teens who still don’t know when their classes will resume and what future holds for them.

Unesco statistics show that education of nearly 1.6 billion or 90 percent of the world’s school-age children in 190 countries has so far been affected.

Closing any educational institution for ‘until further notice’, that too, worldwide, due to an illness is not read or heard of.  Occasionally, schools in some of the Asian countries shut down due to internal strife or rising cases of flu, smallpox or gastroenteritis.

With the passage of each day the children are missing out on several fronts that vary from personality development activities to sports and arts. Those in the higher classes are forced to skip milestones like prom and graduation. The stress is amplified with hardly any outdoor activities like hanging out with friends, playing, or visiting places of worship.

This, psychologists point out, may delay their cognitive, emotional, and social development. For those in the most critical periods of adolescence, it may even drain mental strength.

I am not suggesting that the schools reopen in a situation that will lead to the spread of the contagion, but look at our youngsters who are denied social interactions and chances to expand their understanding of the world.

No doubt, “learners simply have no incentive to keep at their studies without peer pressure, a teacher at hand or a structured learning environment”.