The Covid-19 pandemic has brought untold difficulties in the lives of millions of people the world over. As reports pour in about the possible mutation of the virus and the second wave of the pandemic, all we can do is prepare to face the many new challenges that could visit us. Small and resource-strapped as we are though, we cannot afford to not do all in our capacity to address the many strains that Covid-19 has forced upon us. It is not as if all else is less important but one of the most significant sectors that need special attention in these trying times is education and the well-being of our children.
According to a UNICEF finding, Bhutanese children aren’t getting enough time to study and so are stressed having to prepare for exams. With schools closed due to the pandemic, children, particularly in rural Bhutan, are snowed under with farm work and other household chores, leaving them with little or no time for academic activities and increasing classwork. Transition to online classes hasn’t been easy for both students and teachers what with an abrupt change in syllabus contents, evaluation methods and technical issues with online applications. The result is immense physical, emotional and psychological pressure on the young minds.
A well-placed university study has found that many students are experiencing higher than normal stress and anxiety levels due to Covid-19-related implications. Many worry about their grades and without strict and proper guidance there is every chance of children losing motivation and focus and to sink into the habit of procrastination. Sometimes, sadly, even home is not the safest place for children. In such cases, increasing social isolation can be detrimental to the children’s mental health. The feeling of uncertainty or hopelessness has the potential to lead to depressive thoughts which can be damaging. And, as the pandemic situation prolongs, there is a danger of negative impacts on education itself.
But there are ways to cope. Urgent interventions and preventive strategies can and must be developed. Of course, it is not as if we have been sitting on our hands; we have been acutely aware of the implications on our young people and their future if we stagger in our efforts today. That means bringing in all the support systems together to help our children learn, clear their exams and excel without having to struggle and wither away. Children and their education ought not to suffer because we are talking about a generation that we could lose if we fail to act now.
To children: Do not worry because worrying does not change a situation. Stay focused. Often our behaviour is influenced by how we think and feel; positive thinking is absolutely important. Talk to friends and family members, share your dreams and challenges. We need each other’s support more than we know we do. Education is your future, so strive hard.
To parents: Know your child. Talk to him. Find time for him and help him dream. More important, lead him on to the path of success, not with threats and warnings but with love and attention. That’s all he needs, now at this formative age.