World post-Covid: What changes will emerge in education and employment?

An interdisciplinary panel discussion was conducted on 6th June 2020 at 6:00 pm IST on the topic “World post-Covid: What changes will emerge in education and employment?”. The event was streamed on Zoom and Facebook. Ms. Nikita Gupta (Co-founder, Covid19 Helpline India) kick-started the webinar by giving an introduction about the Helpline and the work it does. Following her, Ms. Jaanvi Chopra introduced the three panellists and the session’s moderator, Ms. Smriti Sethi. 
The first speaker was Ms. R. Divya Karthick, Managing Partner and Psychologist, Wow Mind and Behavioural Clinic. She started by talking about the immediate impact of the lockdown on students and professionals- they had to get used to online learning and work-from-home. According to her, since this arrangement might continue for more months, it is necessary to establish a proper routine and work schedule. Along with the mental well-being, Ms. Karthick emphasised on the need to care for our physical health while we are at home. She recommended not sitting in front of a screen for hours, and exercising to burn out the stress. She even noted the important role of organisations in creating policies and work styles that would help employees achieve productivity and well-being. Lastly, she acknowledged the panic and hesitance being felt by most people as they have to transition back into working in offices and encouraged all 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 said that school students should not worry or panic since the pandemic was a blanket situation impacting all school-goers in the same manner. Instead, for them, he stressed on the importance of spending time with family and using online platforms to take courses and learn something new. For the college-going crowd, he acknowledged the panic of final and pre-final year students, who are worried about 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 at hand. Finally, he turned his attention to working professionals and said that the lay-offs are likely to continue. For this cohort, he emphasised on the need to build and use one’s contacts effectively and make use of alumni networks and spaces like LinkedIn. He concluded by saying that no one’s alone during this period of crisis and that we’ll bounce back from it. 
Our final speaker was Ms. Neelima Srivastava, a psychology teacher. She talked about how the school system underwent recalibration when the switch to online classes was made. While the tech-savvy students were able to adapt faster, teachers had to undergo training to gain familiarity with the virtual mode. 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 blending of classroom and virtual learning. Also, the focus will shift from simple pen-and-paper tests to assessing the child on parameters like hygiene, discipline, self-care; moreover, life skills, social-emotional learning and creativity will become more relevant in school curriculums. She concluded by sharing how, in her opinion, the concept of quality neighbourhood schools will gain traction and how gadgets would become an indispensable need of the education system. 
The panellists’ addresses were followed by a Question and Answer round, facilitated by Ms. Sethi. Panellists answered questions about issues like virtual education, the compromised efficiency of organisations due to work-from-home, and 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.