Updated: Jun 18
Keeping up with our weekly webinar series, Covid19 Helpline India conducted an interdisciplinary panel discussion on 6th June 2020 at 6:00 pm IST. The topic under consideration was “World post-Covid: What changes will emerge in education and employment?” and the event was attended by an enthusiastic audience across Zoom and Facebook. Ms. Nikita Gupta (Co-founder, Covid19 Helpline India) kick-started the webinar by giving everyone a short introduction about the Helpline and the work it does. Following her, Ms. Jaanvi Chopra introduced the three panellists and the moderator for the session, Ms. Smriti Sethi.
The first speaker for the evening was Ms. R. Divya Karthick, Managing Partner and Psychologist, Wow Mind and Behavioural Clinic. She started by talking about the shift that entered the lives of students as well as working professionals when the lockdown was implemented- they had to get used to online learning and work-from-home. She suggested the audience to establish a proper routine and work schedule for themselves. Along with mental well-being, Ms. Karthick also emphasized the need to care for our physical health and recommended exercising to feel good and burn out the stress instead of sitting in front of screens for hours at length. She even noted the important role of organizations and HR teams in creating policies and work styles that would help achieve productivity and employees’ well-being. Lastly, she acknowledged the panic and hesitance being felt by most people as they slowly have to transition back into working in offices and encouraged us to let go of the panic and deal calmly with this change.
The second speaker was Mr. Akshat Shrivastava who owns an Investment Fund that promotes education. He addressed the topic from the standpoint of three different audiences- school students, college students, and working professionals. He said that school students should not worry or panic since the pandemic was a blanket situation impacting all school-goers in the same manner and suggested that they spend time with family and use online platforms to take courses and learn something new. Coming to the college-going crowd, he acknowledged their panic, especially in the final and pre-final year students, who are worried about the state of the economy and their placements. Mr. Shrivastava called these worries short-term challenges and advised students to not be too picky in choosing a job right now. He also suggested that they make a contingency plan, prepare for competitive exams, and keep multiple alternatives- plans A, B, C- at hand. Finally, he turned his attention to the working professionals and voiced his belief that the lay-offs will continue in big organizations as well as start-ups due to ongoing liquidity constraints. For this cohort, he emphasized on the need to build and use one’s contacts effectively and make use of alumni networks and spaces like LinkedIn to tap into opportunities. He concluded by saying that no one is alone during this period of crisis and that we will bounce back from it soon.
Our final speaker for the session was Ms. Neelima Srivastava, a psychology teacher in a Delhi school. She presented her views on how teachers, students and the entire school system underwent a major recalibration when the switch to online classes was made. While students, who are generally more tech-savvy, were able to adapt faster, teachers had to undergo special training to gain familiarity with the virtual model and the various applications. Over the months, she said, major progress has been made since schools are now able to conduct parent-teacher meetings, competitions and even assessments online. According to her, the post-Covid times will see the education system adopting an approach wherein classroom and virtual learning will blend. Also, the education system is in for a revamp since the focus will shift from simple pen-and-paper tests to assessing the child on parameters like hygiene, discipline, and self-care; moreover, life skills, social-emotional learning and creativity will become more relevant in school curriculums. Ms. Srivastava also added that in the post-Covid world, we will witness a move away from living hollow, inauthentic lives into more meaningful ones. She concluded by sharing how, in her opinion, the concept of quality neighbourhood schools will gain traction and how gadgets and technology would become an indispensable need of the education system.
The addresses by the three speakers were followed by a question-and-answer round, facilitated by Ms. Sethi. She asked her questions, as well as those that had been submitted by the audience members. An interesting conversation was born out of these questions in which the panellists spoke about issues like virtual education and how it is here to stay, the compromised efficiency of organizations due to adoption of the work-from-home model, and even the importance of teaching emotional intelligence in schools. The event was brought to an end with a vote of thanks by Ms. Chopra who expressed her gratitude towards the panellists and all the attendees who made the webinar an informative and insightful experience.
By- Pratika Mehra Feature image by – Jaanvi Chopra