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Changes in education system -The Asian Age


--Riffat Ahmed

Humans, being the most knowledgeable and dynamic form of life to ever live, have transformed the world in ways beyond imagination. Introducing new machines and technologies has made our lives a hundred times easier compared to our forefathers. However, with innovations come new obstacles. The earth itself is becoming weak from having to bear the weight of both living creatures and their requirements. Despite constant reminders from environmentalists and scientists about how the life of mother earth is at risk because of increased pollution and global warming, we seemed to not pay much heed to the consequences coming our way.  
Thus, when the COVID-19 pandemic started creating chaos among humans, it came as a blessing in disguise for our planet; it became a healing period for mother nature. Having said this, it is needless to point out how big of a toll the spread of this virus is taking on human life. 
Researchers have noted a trend where every hundred years the world experiences such pandemics. During these periods of despair, we have no alternative option but to make use of the resources accessible to us to maintain our regular lives. 
This year’s coronavirus/ COVID-19 pandemic has taken the biggest hit on the education and healthcare sectors, given no one was prepared to face these consequences. We can see that every country is taking extreme measures to make sure its population is safe and investing in healthcare to keep the spreading to a minimum. The damage this outbreak is provoking is evident and even developed countries, like the USA, are experiencing a hard time keeping the situation under control. 
So when it comes to countries like Bangladesh, we can merely imagine how terrible the consequences of the pandemic may be. Even though our healthcare sector is somewhat in check, our education sector is suffering beyond measure. Schools, colleges, and all other educational institutions have been closed for over a month now. 
To cope with the situation some institutions, that have the capability, have been providing online classes to go forth with the school year through online platforms like Zoom, Google Meets, etc. In Bangladesh, students rely on tutors outside of school and go to coaching centres for additional help. Now, this pandemic has come as a significant barrier since not every institution has resources available for e-learning. Besides resources, both teachers and students must comply to make a lesson successful. 
When universities arranged e-learning facilities, they had to take a lot of factors into account as most students and teachers are not tech-savvy. Problems like proper internet access and availability of laptops and computers are common as not everyone is privileged. Some students are not comfortable with e-learning since we accustomed them to face-to-face learning in a classroom full of students. Online classes still seem unusual to most as this is something we are just beginning to adapt to. 
There are a few e-learning platforms in Bangladesh that have been providing this service for a while now, like ten-minute school, REPTO, and Bohubrihi. If more institutions would have made e-learning more available, it probably would have come in handy during this stressful time. The idea that learning can be done anytime and where must be instilled in everyone’s mind. Education must not be constrained within a concrete block-and-mortar compound, and it can take different forms.
Having said this, one benefit of this mass quarantine has been the utilization of available online platforms to conduct classes. The cyber-world has already progressed to a point where there are plenty of tools for everyone to make work from home much easier. Not only does this reduce human labour, but the proper use of these applications and software may also lead to drastic changes in the environment. 
Bangladesh is a third world country where certain facilities that may be very common to the rest of the world are not readily available or used. This pandemic has given Bangladesh an opportunity to alter the system by utilizing technological advancements. 
The prosperity of a country depends on its education system. Countries that had adapted to online systems before the world crisis began are easily going forward with the rest of the academic year. On the other hand, uncertainty still looms in Bangladesh since we are still learning to manage online platforms. However, the progress that we have seen in the past month is commendable as most institutions have already got this new system within their grasp. This makes us optimistic as it means that if we try, we can change our entire education system and bring every institution on the same level.
This change can only be made possible if the government takes the initiative to educate all institutions regarding online practices. Schools and universities in urban areas have quickly decided to switch to online classes but rural schools are still shut down with no way to move forward. If all teachers, regardless of where they teach, are given basic training and necessities to take online classes the entire system would be on the same level. Once all teachers receive the same training, they can teach their students to get accustomed to e-learning. 
The process of bringing changes in the education system must be done as soon as this pandemic is over so that any new world crisis does not leave us helpless. 
All prosperous countries have one thing in common- an educated population. Bangladesh, being one of the most densely populated countries, has a very huge gap between urban and rural regions. Scarcity of resources is one of the main reasons why this gap exists. If the proper distribution of resources like electricity, internet and machines is ensured, this gap will be reduced to a great extent. Despite the fast-paced digital world around them, schools have usually been under-resourced and poorly funded when it comes to technology utilization. 
The positive effect of this pandemic was acknowledging this problem. We can now pinpoint where more work needs to be done to bring everyone on the same page. When the whole world is searching for words through their phones and computers, we still cannot be left looking into dictionaries. We must keep up with the pace of the rest of the countries. This can only be done with the full support from the government as well as local communities.  When global or national organizations try to provide social interventions in the hardest-to-reach areas, at the beginning of the plan they need to let the local community know  how involved it needs to be to ensure a successful implementation. 
It should not come as a surprise if the world decides to completely shift to e-learning as it is the next best alternative. If students are required to go to school only four days a week and take online classes once a week it may become a sustainable way to adjust to e-learning. Schools are necessary for interactive learning and reduction of one school day can be beneficial for teachers, students and the environment. 
While the volatility of our world is forcing us to change our lives to stop the spread of COVID-19, we need use this opportunity to adopt new technologies, innovate and upgrade our education system to meet the long-standing needs of students. Only then the future of our country can be secured and prepared for any upcoming crises. 
The writer is Chairperson of Siddiqui's International School and Treasurer of Bangladesh English Medium Schools' Assistance Foundation (BEMSAF)