Psychiatrists Dipti Shah Gada and Jai R Ram focus on the long-term pros and cons of virtual classrooms
The School Mental Health Specialty Section of the Indian Psychiatric Society organised a debate on the ‘Impact of online classes on schoolchildren’ on July 21.
The virtual debate focused on the pros and cons of the ongoing online learning and the way forward, which can aid the government and administrative bodies in narrowing down on a methodology for future education.
The debate was moderated by Sanjay Garg, the co-chairperson of Indian Psychiatric Society. Mumbai-based consultant psychiatrist Dipti Shah Gada focused on the advantages, while Jai R. Ram, psychiatrist at Apollo Gleneagles and joint director of Mental Health Foundation, Kolkata, spoke against the current digital teaching methods.
Through various case studies, Dipti Shah Gada pointed out that online education helped in tackling anxiety and uncertainty among students about their education at the start of the pandemic. It gave working parents time to easily focus on their work, while their child was engrossed in studies or constructive learning.
Virtual learning allowed students who wanted to pursue careers like sports or music the flexibility to attend to both their passion and academics. It saved miles of travelling that children needed to do to reach school.
Online education made students digitally equipped to handle technical issues. Also, it connected students, teachers and parents from different geographical locations and created a global community. “Technology is not an option but a necessity,” said Gada.
Jai R. Ram started off by mentioning the Global Education Recovery Tracker brought out by Unicef, Johns Hopkins University and World Bank. He drew attention to the fact that education and economy are directly proportional. “If learning does not take place in physical schools, then one is subjected to a life of poverty,” said Ram. The marginalised cannot afford to purchase technical equipment for education where they find it difficult to make ends meet.
Hence, the absence of brick-and-mortar schooling is adversely affecting the psychosocial condition of people. He mentioned studies that showed that children aged 6 to 9 years were facing irrevocable cognitive damage in the absence of social interaction. He focused on the need for immediate acknowledgment of the situation by reviewing and drawing up a solution for education.