A Situational Study and Suggestive Measures
on Higher Education Amidst the Global Pandemic

Arup Majumder

College or University education is important for many reasons, including long-term financial gain, job stability, career satisfaction and success outside the workplace. With more and more occupation requiring advanced education, a college or university degree is significant to one’s success in today's workforce. But, the rate of spread of corona virus is speeding rapidly in India, though a nation-wide lockdown was imposed for the past two months, all the attempts to stop the growth were in vain. Some are of the view that community transmission have already started in India as a result of which India ranked rapidly upward in the International graph (Singha,2020).

And this was the reason everything was so devastated. Currently, the shops are opening on a large scale. Though the government as well as the private sectors has begun their work in earnest, everyone is terrified about the reopening of the educational institutions. While the guardians are really afraid to send their child to school, the same amount of panic resides among the teachers as well as the administrative persons.

Let us consider the story of Mampi who belongs from a semi-urban area of West Bengal. Presently she is pursuing her Bachelors in Sociology. This Corona pandemic has put an end in her studies. When she was asked the question, whether she wants to participate in her college studies post lockdown, she thoughtfully replied that it was impossible to attend college even if the lockdown ends and that she would complete her studies from home by any cost.

Another student Barnali who also is a student of Social Science, holds the same view like Mampi  when asked the same question. This lockdown has also marked an end on her studies. But Barnali added that she lacks a smart phone which is why it will be difficult for her to join the online classes, which can be a reason to put an end to her education in this digitalized world.

 Just like Mampi and Barnali, Apurba who is also pursuing his Bachelors faced similar consequences too. He also stated that he cannot continue his studies further. His father is a poor carpenter of the village. Before lockdown, with his father’s income they were able to lead a satisfactory life and Apurba continued his studies too. But due to this total lockdown, his father has no more income. Though, the government aid has helped them a bit. To provide a little helping hand, Apurba along with his other friends have opened a little shop where they sell fritters with a daily earning of 50 – 100 rupees. According to him he has no idea whether he can continue his studies or to revisit his college. Not only financial insecurity but also the threat of the infection persists.

Therefore, all this problem leads us to a particular thought that how to keep the smooth running of the institutions as before. For more than a period of two months, the educational institutions are closed not only in West Bengal but also India along with many other countries. There are many countries that have continued their education through online medium. Measures have been adopted about implementing online system of education for schools and universities and also through various television channels, still the system hasn’t reached to all (Majumder, 2020). Though the Private Universities have resumed their online studies, the universities affiliated under the Central and the State government is far away from this system. By conducting a small survey among the students over phone, it is understood that many universities in India failed to provide the uninterrupted flow of education to the students.

A lot of reasons have been found out after a brief discussion with the students. Firstly, there are numerous students in a Government University and majority of them are currently at their home in lockdown. Many of them does not have a smart phone, some lack an internet connection while others are unable to recharge due to financial problems. Some even have poor network connection in their locality. Secondly, the absence of a secluded place in a joint family makes it difficult for the students to attend their online classes. The majority of the students in India come from indigent families. And the economic shock imposed by corona may hamper the career of a number of students just like Apurba.

Thus, it is clear to us that there arose a session jot among the semesters in the Indian Universities. Though the University Grants Commission (UGC), have suggested the Universities to continue the curriculum of the last semester students along with other semester, but in reality, the universities and colleges along with the students are struggling with a lot of difficulties because this situation is very different from the educational problems of other times.  Plus, post this corona pandemic there will be added new conditions of health projections.  The World Health Organisation(WHO) has stressed the fact that corona will never be totally disappeared from the globe. Apart from social distancing other health care measures should be adopted by the people. Keeping these points in mind, the biggest question that arises within us is how to restart the educational institutions in this deadly situation. Pushing away the fear and anxiety if we really move forward towards preparing ourselves, then several strategies can be developed.

  1. The Universities should be reopened and the matters that need to be prepared quickly should be determined. Also, information about the current situation of the students should be gathered.
  2. The Universities or colleges where there is confined space for the students in the classroom should be brought into notice. It is found that in many universities and colleges, the classrooms provide insufficient space for the students due to which they are having minimum space among them especially in the Arts Department.
  3.  In most of the Universities, the libraries create a student gathering which increases the chance of the infection especially there is always a contact between people as well as the necessary materials. So an e-library must be set up by the respective institutions so that the books and other study materials are easily accessible to the students from their homes or hostels or be it any place of residences.

Therefore, it is easily conceivable that social distancing cannot be maintained from these situations also screening a thousand individuals seems out of the question. Apart from the students, equal attention should be paid to the teachers too. In some of the institutions in India, there is a lack of the proper staff room. There are even some institutions where the teachers share their personal spaces enclosed by office almirahs, even there are no sitting arrangements for the guest faculties. The condition of the new universities outside Kolkata, West Bengal is more miserable. Even discussion with the student in their dissertations or other important topics seems difficult due to the lack of proper space. Also the University hostels should also be brought under these health rules. After a small analysis by the residential teacher it should be pointed out that only legitimate students are allowed to stay and a safe social distance should be maintained among the students.

Now if the issue arises about the confined space in the Universities then arrangements can be made to run the classes in two shifts. In that case, a safe distance can be maintained in the classrooms. But for that a large number of teachers are required, and also their work pressure will be doubled. To solve this issue, new teachers, be it temporary or permanent should be recruited taking permissions from the Government or the University. Also instead of double bedded rooms, arrangements of single rooms should be brought into consideration. Apart from these, sanitization facilities must be organized in the classroom as well as in the University or College. This will enable the individuals to carry on with their duties in this perilous environment. Also, steps should be taken on how speedily the medical centres are turned into hospitals in the University campus. The students can also be provided with health insurance benefits, this side must also be focused by the Authorities.  Students should also be encouraged in the online curriculum along with the classroom learning. The students who are economically backward should be supported financially. The Universities should also focus on providing internet to the students at an affordable price so that everyone should have the access to internet.

The Universities those have adopted different plans to deal with these special situations, their benefits must be highlighted to other institutions so that we must overcome this difficult time of recession. Our fight against this pandemic and our endless attempts to return to the normal pace of life must go on.

This study is based on the direct intensive observation, interviews and case studies taken from the informants in the villages of North 24 Parganas district, West Bengal. These informants were from different age groups and sexes. Apart from the above mentioned methods employed for the study, the earlier published and unpublished materials of related issues have also been referred for this study. The names of the original individual have been changed in all the case studies for research ethical purposes.

Singha, Sulaya. (2020): “decemborer moddhe 50 shtangsai bharotiyo coronai akranto hoben, chorabe gosthi sonkromon, dabi gobesoker” (in bangla), Sangbad Pratidin,  viewed on 1st June, 2020,
Majumder, Arup. (2020): An Unforeseeable Calamity: The COVID-19, Frontier Weekly, Viewed on 9th June, 2020,

Dr. Arup Majumder, School of Languages and Linguistics, Jadavpur University

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Jun 13, 2020

Dr. Arup Majumder

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