Students’ Psychology and Examinations amidst Covid-19

Bishaldeep Kakati

The concerned citizens have already voiced out their opinions regarding various ways to deal with economy, health, education etc amidst the lingering threat of the corona virus. Although, significant importance has also been laid upon the subject matter of securing the academic year of the students, however it seems that the higher institutions of education or the government as a whole have sidelined a pivotal thing that can be termed as ‘Students Psychology.’ And the main reason behind the development of this notion lies on the fact that be it the University Grants Commission or most of the universities, all are basically oriented towards completing the academic year, without giving due importance to the mental health of the students.

Let us imagine a vehicle that has not been driven continuously for two months. The probable scenario that might appear thereafter would be either the engine of that vehicle might be completely destroyed or it would at least take some time for the vehicle’s engine to operate in full swing. And this example has been intentionally brought in to show the mental condition of the students, which would be more or less exactly similar to that of the vehicle. These students that have been under lockdown for more than two months, at least require a certain period of time to once again instill their normal thought process before they can jump into the examination mode. Not to forget the fact that as this pandemic appeared to be more and more threatening day by day, many of the students had to face dilemmas like lack of food resources, quarantine issues, threat of community transfer of the diseases etc, which is simply enough to disturb their salubrious state of mind and create many predicaments like anxiety, fear, depression, frustration etc. Therefore, the pivotal question that we need to take into consideration is: Have we just thought students to be robots that do not have any kind of mental set-up or emotions? And as we bring this question into the limelight, we have considered the entire students fraternity, comprising of both urban and rural areas.

In fact, according to an online survey conducted in Greece amidst Covid-19, from the first 1000 university students, there was a ‘horizontal’ increase in scores; 42.5% for anxiety, 74.3% for depression, and 63.3% increase in total suicidal thoughts. And the scenario might not have been that different, if a similar survey was conducted in India as well, since according to a study by the World Health Organization for National Care of Medical Health (NCMH), India already topped the list of countries with the greatest burden of mental and behavioral disorders. Thus, this statistics is enough to draw a picture of the mental condition of the students of India amidst Covid-19. Added to this, according to a report by India Times, 12% of Indian students between the age group of 4-16 suffer from psychiatric disorders, 20% show signs of mental disorders, out of which 2-5% have serious concerns like autism or bipolar disorders. Moreover the alarming fact regarding India is that, shockingly every hour a student in India commits suicide and the recent news report of a 10th standard girl of Kerala committing suicide because of not being able to get proper access to the online classes, proves that each and every student is experiencing a different kind of mindset.

 Moreover, in this crucial juncture, when the students are already struggling with mental stress and uncertainty, a major issue that has been further adding up to their worsening mental health is our education system. No doubt the efforts of the institutions and specifically of the professors to have brainstormed online ways to keep the pace of education intact must be appreciated, but an important question that arises over here is: Are we truly ready to work online?

The key requirements in the online mode of education are a laptop or a smart phone with a good internet connection. But in a country where majority of the people find it hard to meet their daily needs even in normal circumstances, it is almost impossible in the current context for every student to afford an internet connection and above all, an equally compatible electronic device. Added to this, the process of giving new assignments every now and then with a new deadline further contributes to the mental pressure of the students.  Moreover, we must also consider the fact that colleges in Assam had to be closed in a short notice due to the sudden outbreak of the virus, which meant a lot of students had to vacate their hostels in haste. So with or without limited internet access and no books either, it’s literally impossible for the students to either submit their assignments or even prepare for their examinations. In fact even when stuffs that require practical explanation like project or field work have been conducted online or asked to be submitted online, the students were simply left with no option but to totter. And even after all these; it’s really shocking to come across news as such where major Universities have thought of conducting online examinations.

The conspicuous fact is that with limited number of classes and limited amount of syllabus covered, it’s really unethical to directly consider organizing the examinations. And for most of the students of the country, at least a minimum number of physical classes are an absolute must before the examinations are conducted. Furthermore, the entire education system of India must also run in a uniform manner. Hence, if educational institutions are opened, then educational institutions of the entire country must be opened altogether or else it would create a big time chaos, where students from one state won’t have the liberty to move to other states to pursue higher education. And an imbalance in this regard would further cause loss of time only.

Therefore, instead of hurrying with everything, the government should come out with a properly planned solution regarding the academic year of the students. Further they should also consider the psychology of the students or may even direct the educational institutions to conduct some mind counseling sessions for the students so that they can recover from their distressing mindset at the earliest. However, with all these issues larking up, we also need to consider: Has an academic year suddenly become more important than the process of gaining knowledge?

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Jun 7, 2020

Bishaldeep kakati

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