No one ever thinks that a pandemic will come and hits the world adversely. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge which affects the whole world. The global pandemic have affected many important sectors unpropitious, one of them is the education sector at an unprecedented scale. The pandemic results in the closure of schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions to control the spread of the coronavirus. So, online learning remains the only solution to continue the education system. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recognized that the coronavirus pandemic outbreak has impacted the education system in the world. According to a UNESCO report (2020) 87 percent of the world’s student population is affected by COVID-19 school closures.
Recently, the Manipur Government has issued an order for reopening of schools from pre-primary onwards after a gap of two years due to COVID 19 pandemic. All the schools in the state have started reopening schools by conducting physical offline classes. In connection with this, the Directorate of Education(schools) have issued a notification regarding the school timing of students from pre-primary to class XII standard starting from 8 am with effect from first April this year.
As the schools have started reopening after a gap of almost two years due to pandemic, parents of different schools faced many difficulties to getting ready their children for school. Interacting with some parents at queues of different shopping points expressed their hassle in getting uniforms, books, shoes, bags and other related items.
A mother of class I student, Bushara Anjum of Lilong Bazar expressed that it is a big problem for her getting ready for school as for everything there is a long queue for uniforms and books. It took almost three to four hours to buy school uniforms standing in the long queue with her son. The queue suffers both the children and parents too. She also appealed the concerned authorities to announce the order before two or three months ahead so that parents get sufficient time to buy the required items in advance and fully prepared for school. Some parents are not in a position to send their children on the first day of reopening school as they could not buy their children’s uniform as they have been financially affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
Mrs Anjum also expressed in grief that as her husband succumbed to death due to COVID-19 in the first wave, she has been facing many difficulties running her family without her husband’s support. As her health is not good, she is unable to earn her livelihood but somehow manages her family with the support from relatives and friends. She has applied for the government assistance given to the deceased family of COVID-19. She is still waiting for it. She also expressed that the pandemic has brought great loss in her life. She expressed her desire that if the government could bear all educational expenses for her son till twelfth standard she will be very thankful to the new government. It will make relief her burden that could wash away the pain of tears of her eye, she lamented.
Another parent, Thaja Oinam of Naorem Leikai Liwa Lambi said that for the first time in her life she has been in queue for school uniforms and books. She spent three hours for buying one shirt from 3pm to 6pm and another long queue for buying books too. The long queue has consumed all her time creating a lot of problem in the family. Even it creates misunderstanding among the family members. If more shopping points could be opened at nearby localities it will ease the problem. The price of uniforms and other related items also have increased after the pandemic, she added.
K. Basanta, a father of a student of Langthabal Mantrikhong Awang Leikai narrated that it consumed one day to purchase a school shirt. If more shopping points could be opened at many places, it will reduce the pain of standing in queue for long hours. He wishes if more local made uniforms could be produced in the state it would save a huge amount of state’s money. This will help in providing more employability to our youths and helps in making a self-reliant state.
A father of a class ten and a nursery student, Bikramjit Maibam who hails from Ningomthong Kitna Panung asserted that as there was no schooling for the consecutive two years due to pandemic, he had to buy everything new including uniforms, books, shoes, bags and other related items for his children. He spent two days in buying uniform in the long queue and two hours for buying books and long queue for bags too. If the government announced the order of reopening schools in more advance, parents would not face many inconveniences standing in the time consuming long queues and sometimes quarrelsome among the members in the queues.
The pandemic has created many disturbances to many people directly or indirectly in different ways. Not only Anjum, Basanta or Thaja faced difficulties in getting ready their children for schools. And many more Anjum might be in worse conditions than any other parents in the state being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As learning could not be stopped even in the worst time also, the concerned education department has taken up many steps and modules for imparting knowledge to the students. In setting the framework of students for getting education, it needs to be in a parent friendly manner. Wishing all the students a new school year and to enjoy the school days.