By: Usama Malick
A pandemic is commonly defined as the worldwide spread of a novel disease. Come the year 2020 and nobody knew that it would bring in its wake a disastrous pandemic—namely coronavirus— leaving the people with no option but to remain indoors and avoid mass gatherings. To a great extent, it was feasible for the bourgeoisie and crème da le crème to adapt themselves to such conditions but it was the working class and low-income households who had to bear the brunt of the havoc caused by this merciless contagion. The major concern for this part of the society was simple: how would they eat if their breadwinners were restricted indoors? Consequently, they have been truly like soldiers fighting —even today— against two life-threatening monsters: one poverty and the other a rapidly mutating coronavirus.
Meanwhile, students were not exempted from these conditions either, as most instruction became remote via online classes. The erasure of the bounderies between the professional (classes/university) and the personal (home) also came with its own set of challenges. A large number of the student body suffered a disadvantage due to lacking an environment which could be condusive to concentration and studying. For some students, the absence of a proper room to study, dearth of resources to fund their education were the mind-boggling problems whereas others have had unavailability of Internet services like issues in their respective regions.
On the flip side, there have been a number of students too who had to grapple with these predicaments all together to turn this online education into a reality. Much to our sadness despite agitations in miscellaneous parts of the country, the government did nothing to redress the students’ grievances and so universities went on to hold online classes. Eventually, in the first some months of this virus, more than 1.5 billion students and around 65 million teachers from 180 countries of the world had shifted to online classes leaving the institutes unoccupied.
Online learning has never been an optimal option, yet after so many ifs and buts, students have become inured to it in time. They have eventually realized that this pandemic’s total termination from this world is nowhere on the horizon.
The whole humanity is already experiencing the second wave of this death-dealing virus and this time it has been more aggressive and lethal in wreaking havoc as far as exterminating human lives is concerned. Reports of Covid-19’s variant being found, first in England and now in different parts of the world including Pakistan, further consolidate this view that this contagion is not going to leave humanity anytime soon. Therefore “transition” is the only alternative we as students and other human beings are left with. The sooner people adapt themselves to this new normal, the better. As Elbert Einstein once said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change”.
However not all is doom and gloom and there might be a silver lining for a plethora of students —whose many hours of a day were spent in commutation in order to reach university and come back home. Students have had the opportunity to spend more time with family members and friends and thus to solidify social bonding. Covid-19 compelled humans to renew their views on life, success and otherworldly matters. After that period of contemplations, everyone has come to believe that compassion for humanity, the charity for the destitute, tolerance to accept people with different views are such commendable traits that benefit the person who practices them the most and help make this world a better place for everyone. With the arrival of 2021, it really seems like people —who have been lucky enough to survive the pandemic—are now living a second life with the first one being left in the turbulent 2020. Though the second wave of this pandemic is still in its full swing, everyone is advised to enjoy this “second” life responsibly.
In the end, it would be unfair to not mention the role of all mentors who did their best to ensure a smooth run vis-a-vis online learning. Unlike students, teachers hardly groused against the predicaments they had to face. For a large number of students, it was a highly disgruntling experience to study online. But it was not easier for teachers to teach students this way as well. They empathized with all concerned students and complied with their requests as far as they could. They pragmatically proved that we were all in this together and together we would come out of these crises.