PESHAWAR: The Covid-19 pandemic forced educational institutions from primary schools to universities to hold online classes but students as well as teachers are already stressed out with long monotonous classes.

“There is no Sunday. A hell of presentations is assigned almost everyday. It is driving me crazy,” said a university student requesting not be named.

The teachers also said that they were stressed out by the online classes.

“Students think a teacher is at their disposal 24/7. I often get questions from students on my mobile phone from students whether it is day or night,” said Prof Noreen Naseer, a teacher of University of Peshawar.

University of Peshawar was closed in March for classes and online classes were started in June. The students since beginning of the online classes were having problems with log in and using the software for classes that was also frustrating for teachers.

Power outages and lack of internet facility are major problems

“Some students would not even know how to mute their mics during a class while many others did not have internet facility at all which deprived them of attending classes,” said Prof Noreen. She added that rowdy students were hard to control in a virtual class of almost 100 students.

Taking online examinations was also difficult due to lack of awareness with the online system and connectivity issues. Connectivity issue and lack of internet were problematic enough but teachers were constantly contacted almost 24 hours for the whole week by students.

“Students and teachers both are stressed out with these online classes,” said Prof Noreen, who felt if universities were going to continue with online classes for some time, it was necessary to develop online class ethics and some rules to overcome the issues as students and teachers were not used to online classes.

Dr Nasir Jamal Khattak at English department of UoP said that frequent power outages was one major stressor for him as it wasted time of entire class. He said that he missed using black or white board to explain an idea to the students that he used to do in a class.

“Half of the time of the online class is spent in asking students if they could hear me or not,” he said. He said that it was harder to reply quickly to a student during online class. The online classes slowed down the learning process and all those things put a lot of stress on a teacher and students, he added.

Online classes are not only a headache for senior teachers due to a sudden change in techniques and manner of teaching but students hailing from far flung areas and tribal districts also complain about internet connectivity issues. The tribal districts don’t have easy access to 3G or mobile internet service that resulted in their missing the online classes and examinations.

Students have held protests and sit-in, asking the government to provide them with fast internet connectivity so that they could attend online classes but officials have not yet provided them with the facility and cited security issues in the tribal region as one reason.

However, in the cities like provincial metropolis where internet is available in most parts, the schoolchildren attending long online classes are also stressed out. Mostly the parents are looking after logging in and out of the young students. Parents assisting their children in online assignments are also under a lot of stress.

“My daughter sometimes gets bored with online class and watch cartoon instead of logging in a class,” said Salim Khan.

Another parent said that he logged his daughter in the wrong class once and felt the female teachers’ privacy was often violated as parents interrupted the class and teachers were under constant stress.

“Teachers are forced to attend a class even if one student is logged in,” said a teacher of a private school. She was teaching an online class comprising a lone student, who was constantly crying as he felt sleepy.

A parent said that online classes were started by private schools without imparting training or providing facilities to the teachers so those proved less educative for students.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2020

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