Pandemic & Impending of Higher Education

/ Guest Column / Sunday, 10 January 2021 17:47

By Debendra Sanasam
The year 2020 as a whole is not so good year for the academic, particularly for the students. Our state, Manipur has affected the most and it has significantly disturbed the education sector which is a serious component of our future. Every year many students from the state go outside of the state for the higher studies in colleges and universities.Crores of rupees are spent every year by the parents for higher studies of their wards and 90% of the money goes out of thestate.The Covid-19 pandemic has traumatisedstate of Manipur with the start of localtransmission and the year 2020 has been a year of panic, no class, social distancing and lockdown. According to the UNESCO report, it has affected more than 90% of the total world’s student population during mid April 2020 , which is now reduced to nearly 68% as per the data taken during the 1st week of June 2020. Another report of UNESCO published in August 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries and all continents. Closures of schools and other learning spaces have impacted 94 per cent of the world’s student population, up to 99 per cent in low and lower-middle income countries.
In India, more than 32 crores of students have been affected bythe various restrictions and the nationwide lockdown ofCOVI-19. As per the UNESCO report, about 14 crores ofprimary and 13 crores ofsecondary students are affected; whichare the two mostly affected levels in India. This is a year of tragedy and hard luck for the private educational institutions of Manipur, no classes no tuition fees and no salaries for the teachers. Many poor students of the state can’t afford to attain the online classes. But somehow our graduate final semester exams were held and results were out in time. Now what will be the future of our students who wanted to continue their higher studies? Most of the students who completed graduate belong to poor and lower middle class family. Few lucky students will be selected in the Manipur University, but seat are limited. Unlike the previous years they can’t go outside the state for studies either due to fear of Covid-19 or for want of enough money. The impact of covid-19 pandemic has badly affected the incomeof poor and middle class families who does not have government jobs. 95 % of the students who graduated belong to this category of family in our society.However, this year of disaster and misfortune can be a remarkable year for the Higher Education sector inour state, Manipur. This impossible can be made possible if government takes a right decision at right time, improving the infrastructure of the only State owned D.M. University. By increasing the number of PG courses, the number of faculty members of each department and thenumber of seat capacity of every department so that more students can be accommodated in the university. D.M. College was one of the prestigious colleges of Manipur and well known for its excellence in the academic standard in the region. Now it’s over two years since its establishment but not much change are visible. As per the NEP 2020 in higher education, increase GER in higher education is emphasised to reach at any rate to half by 2035. The point is to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035. Universities and colleges will set up great help places and will be given sufficient assets and academic assets to energize and uphold students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Professional academic and career counselling will be available to all students, just as instructors to guarantee physical, mental and emotional prosperity.
Will the government of Manipur be able to give the rights to education to all the aspiring under graduates/graduates who want to continue further studies? Or are they going to leave without further studies just in the name of covid-19 pandemic? Why can’t we transform this disastrouspandemic to a remarkable year in higher education sector? Existing infrastructure and faculty of D.M. University can be utilized to tackle this situation. For smooth running of the university, regular VC, Registrar, Controller of Exam and other important key posts must be appointed. This will not only help the students but also will progress the state’s economy. Every year our parents spent crores of money outside the state for the higher studies of their wards. If the money flown out of the state for education can be stoppedthen we can improve our economy.Moreover, our state lacks behind in higher education sector as compared to other neighbouring states. It is the right time for the government and all the stakeholders to make this disaster to a remarkable year of higher education by utilizing the existing infrastructure of state university, the D.M. University for the future of our students and Manipur before it is too late.

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