The COVID-19 pandemic has hugely affected education all around the globe, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 200 countries (Pokhrel & Chhetri 2021). The alarming spread of the virus caused havoc in the educational system forcing educational institutions to shut down. This shows that millions of children were deprived of getting an education due to the pandemic. Similarly, the spread of the virus also affected education in Nepal.
The pandemic has led to the closing of almost all the educational institutions like schools, colleges, universities, and early childhood development centers in Nepal. The government of Nepal has temporarily closed down all the educational institutions to reduce the widespread of the virus among the people. Thus, the exams and other educational events had to be postponed. As of the second week of May 2020, (UNESCO,2020) estimates that nearly nine million (8,796,624) students in Nepal are affected due to school/university closures in response to the pandemic.
The closure of these institutions has highly affected the education as well as the mental health of the students, especially teenagers. Schools and colleges play a significant role in supporting the mental health of children. The lockdown has also discouraged socializing with other people so youngsters are confined inside their homes. So, living in such a crisis is impacting their social, mental, and physical wellbeing. The COVID-19 has disrupted the school life and education of many children resulting in social exclusion and dropping out in general. This social exclusion has also been resulting in the feeling of liking isolated places in the youngster. For instance due to the lockdown the youngsters these days like a sedentary lifestyle rather than going out and socializing.
The sudden lockdown has impacted not only the youngsters but also the teachers. Sudden change in the teaching module from the physical classroom to remote classroom, has made it difficult for teachers to adapt, especially teachers who are not familiarized with technology and online methods of teaching. The teachers were not prepared for the online classroom before so this instant change in teaching methodology was very difficult for teachers as well as students.
Online education or distance learning is dependent on technology, including the internet and Wi-Fi, but all of the students don’t have access which widens the gaps in access and quality of education. There are possible three digital divides that are affecting the education system in the world, especially in South Asian countries.
- Lack of Device: Many children in Nepal do not have access to remote devices like mobile phones, laptops, or computers. According to the Nepali government, 18.7 percent Nepali population are living under the poverty line currently. So the majority of children don't have these devices. The teachers have access to mobile phones but the majority may not have smartphones which is the reason they are not able to conduct online classes and making online classes not possible. Hence, students coming from families with low socio-economic status are likely to be severely affected by such conditions.
- Lack of access to the internet: The students and teachers who have access to remote devices do not have access to internet service. As a result, they cannot join or conduct the classes virtually.
- Effective use of technology: One of the limitations of remote learning is lack of personal interaction between teachers and students which is limiting the learning abilities in children. Another is that the teachers and students are effectively not able to use the available devices. There was no training for teachers about conducting the classes virtually as a result the teachers are not able to properly conduct classes and are continuously facing problems.
For the effectiveness of remote education all over the country, the barriers mentioned above need to be eliminated. If the teachers and students both have access to devices and the internet then education or learning can be effective. On the other hand, the students are facing lots of problems during their virtual class. The online class is only based on theoretical models of teaching, as a result, the students are not able to get practical or hands-on knowledge. It is very difficult for the students to understand subjects like math and also difficult for the teachers to explain the formulas or processes of mathematics.
Pokhrel, S., & Chhetri, R. (2021). A Literature Review on Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Teaching and Learning. Higher Education for the Future, 8(1), 133–141. https://doi.org/10.1177/2347631120983481
Dawadi, Saraswati; Giri, Ram; Simkhada, Padam (2020): Impact of COVID-19 on the Education Sector in Nepal - Challenges and Coping Strategies. Sage Submissions. Preprint. https://doi.org/10.31124/advance.12344336.v1
UNESCO (2020): COVID-19: Impact on Education. UNESCO, Available at: https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse