The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people look at job markets globally during 2020. The short-term consequences were sudden and often severe: Millions of people were furloughed or lost jobs, and others rapidly adjusted to working from home as offices closed. Many jobs was classified as essential and such service people continued to work especially in hospitals, banks and grocery stores, on garbage trucks and in warehouses though with a lot of rules and protocols to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Education was one sector which saw a drastic change and had to adopt to a new normal – Virtual teaching. Though schools and colleges were shut, learning and teaching had to continue as everyone realized that this pandemic would last more than a couple of months. So, teaching went online, and classrooms went empty. Students could have live or recorded classes as per their convenience. Learning thus went beyond boundaries of the four walls.
This trend had a disastrous effect of the jobs of educators. Many institutes downsized their staff as they felt that due to the absence of physical teaching, so many teachers were not required. Many colleges and schools had pre-recorded sessions which they could play multiple times without having to have a physical teacher. In a matter of months across the world, there were many unemployed teachers.
But that did change in a very short time. Students and parents realized the downside of online education. In the absence of a physical connect, personal doubts and questions were not getting answered. Also the students started to miss the physical classroom and peer group they were used to. Due to this miss of the personal connect came in a new era of personalized coaching, both online and offline.
In matter of time, there were more than 150 tutorial apps online which were giving various services from personalized online coaching to subjective specific/class specific courses. This has suddenly opened up a lot of options for teachers and other members who are associated with teaching. Teachers, especially private tutors are highly in demand currently. In fact many teachers are opting out of traditional jobs of teaching in schools and colleges to teach online as private tutors on online platforms.
This is not a very new trend. In fact in the last decade, we have seen a huge increase in tuition centres, private tuitions, home schooling and competitive exam coaching. In fact these courses and many of those targeted courses charges huge fees as compared to regular schools and colleges. There are dedicated chain of institutes for competitive exam preparations who pay good faculty members as good as any corporate job. This trend has already affected the traditional school and college system, with highly knowledgeable and capable teachers often moving into these coaching centres which cannot be afforded by the masses.
The pandemic also affected these centres as most of them had physical mode classrooms. With students not being able to attend classes, they subscribed out of such tuition classes and preparations courses.
Online platforms have made a major level playing field now and are giving these centres a stiff competition. Many teachers have adopted to platforms where they can directly teach students in live classes without being associated with any coaching centres. Similarly, there are many aps which have tied up with various universities to offer various certificate courses and also different exam preparatory courses at a fraction of price. These are most done by recorded sessions and students can pace their learning as per their wish. There are direct sessions for doubt clearance and also level check exams to further helps students.
All these forums and platform are further diminishing the important of Teacher recruiting exams like SET, TET and College PSU. For students who used to complete their B.Ed. and M.Ed. courses before, these exam for appointment into Government schools and colleges, both for state and centre, were the most sort after and lucrative options. In fact every student would prepare for these exams from the beginning. If students would not be able to qualify such exams, which anyways had very limited seats, they would try to apply into some private schools and colleges. Unfortunately, most of these institutes are not under any governing body and thus never had any standardized fees for students or salaries for teachers. This led to many teachers being severely underpaid, making teaching not a very preferred career option.
But post pandemic there has been a major change. Teachers are being appointed by start-ups like Byjus and Udemy as corporate employees who need to teach students. As per industry experts, this demand is going to shoot up as more and more students reduce their dependency on their traditional mode of learning.
Experts today predict three potential trajectories for post-pandemic education: First is a return to the status quo. The focus shall be on remediating the learning losses, or an planned effort to reinvent teaching and learning to be more human. But while schools and institutes are trying to do so, efforts to return to as-is are already demonstrating problems. Schools are struggling with understaffing and a rise student stress levels. As a deficit-oriented approach, remediation fails to recognize that while certain learning goals were not achieved, students demonstrated incredible resilience and learned a lot from the experience. The third approach, a humane reinvention, builds on the strengths that students and teachers alike have demonstrated. Though experts favor this third approach, they also recognize that there are many barriers to change.
The past experience of two years have reinforced the idea that teachers are capable of innovation, but the pandemic has left many too exhausted to take on new initiatives. Initiatives can be enjoyable and energizing when teachers are actively involved in shaping change that they believe will benefit them and their students. However, it will be hard to create such a continuous productive environment unless teachers feel supported and trusted by administrators, policymakers, and communities.
To overcome these barriers as society recovers from the pandemic, education experts are supports the idea of “strategic subtraction” in which old practices are “hospice” to make room for new initiatives. Some changes, like abolishing rules that do more to police student bodies and behaviours than to improve learning, are relatively straightforward. Students who have gotten used to an at-home learning environment and the associated autonomy are quick to point out that they can learn just as effectively while wearing a hoodie or enjoying a snack. Other changes, like remedying long-standing inequities in how schools access resources, will be more challenging.
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