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Online education in times of the “new normal”

 In COVID-19, Education, Human trafficking

A boy attends the Samata Vydia Mandir School with his classmates in a picture before the pandemic. In the “new normal”, online education faces some challenges for children living with their mothers, victims of human trafficking. Photo by Cèlia Zamora

In the current Covid-19 pandemic the entire education system is adopting new technologies and adjusting with the “new normal”. Schools reopened for the new academic year seeing a rapid shift to “online classes”, seen as a panacea for the Covid-19 crisis. Both, teachers and students are struggling to adapt and embrace this new means of education.

Teachers who have never faced the camera in their life are grappling with multiple challenges from maintaining classroom decorum and ensuring quality education to being listened by parents who happen to be attending classes with their pupils.

For students, even children below the age of 10 years are forced to attend their respective classes from their homes and are left to fend for themselves with the new technology, while parents are busy balancing their jobs along with the daily chores. With hundreds of open questions on their mind, many fail to keep pace with the class.

While these children are facing technical problems, our LSE (Life Skills Empowerment) beneficiaries from the 9th and 10th grades attending classes through their mobiles are facing different levels of challenges. Currently, Mumbai Smiles Foundation is reimbursing these students for their monthly network plans so that these students along with their siblings can attend their online classes on the available mobile devices. However, these kids live in red light areas and their mothers are Victims of Human Trafficking. So, although they pretend to lead a normal life in front of their classmates who are often unaware of this background, while attending online classes, the kids are ashamed of displaying their homes and their real life to their classmates.

This new technology has reduced the distance between the teachers and the students but created a deeper rift in their hearts which would take longer to heal.

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