I want to acknowledge and thank Sir Glenn Kharkongor for affirming my thinking and echoing my sentiments of the importance of offline classes. I can see how passionate he is about education and his heart is definitely in the right place. ‘All schools should provide in-person learning as soon as possible, without barriers to access’- I couldn’t agree with him more. Thank you Sir Glenn and I liked the way he so gently clarified about the schools. St. Edmund’s School (ICSE) & St. Edmund’s Higher Secondary School (MBOSE) are two separate schools run by the Christian Brothers.
Br. Solomon Morris,
Can parents think beyond exams?
Strange situations bring strange behaviour in humans and Covid has certainly turned everything on its head. A letter dated January 26, 2022 said, ‘Will schools defer offline classes please?’ and categorically named St Edmund’s Higher Secondary School stating that “offline classes were forced upon students.” The school session ended on December 17, 2021 and the new session was due to resume on January 17, 2022 but in ‘compliance’ with the government’s order to extend the winter break, the classes for class XI were scheduled for January 27, 2022 so how, when and what classes were happening for this child when the campus was shut and teachers on holiday, is a mystery to me.
With regards to offline exams for class 12, the scheduled time-table for the said exam was announced to the students in the first week of December 2021. Any student and interested parent associated with our institution would know that exam time-tables are always announced one month ahead so ,yes, we have been really myopic not to foresee the spike in Covid cases. Unfortunately, nobody is ever certain in Covid times; at best we can only plan. But did the offline exam happen? The answer is NO and not because of anybody’s painstaking concern but with what the government had to say. The parent talked of the need for safety and distancing of the children. Perhaps if parents’ interests in their children’s went beyond exams and marks then you would know that, we have temperature checks at all our entrances every day for every shift and strict monitoring on using a face mask at all times for students. We are one of the few schools or only school that had two shifts of classes and our teachers repeating themselves twice over to teach the same topic to different groups of students. Why did we do so? So that each child sits on a single desk; being physically distant from their classmates! This year during the board exams, besides, letting one student sit on a bench we even had a bench between a candidate in front and the one behind. All these arrangements have been made despite having a fairly huge campus, just so that there is enough space for physical distancing among students.
At the start of the pandemic the teachers on their own took classes on zoom and GoogleMeet and in a matter of a few months into the new normal we have a technology team, our own app and classes streamlined on Microsoft Teams. Online exams for us did not happen with offline submission of scripts but online as the word literally means. If the child took the exam (because they had the choice to take it or not), the report card and the scripts are available on the app for your perusal.
Since I would not have the honour to know the concerned parent I have illustrated the functioning of your child’s school for public reading and I hope that has bridged the communication gap from all sides. A little delay in postponing the exam dates only because we were waiting for orders does not entitle us to this berating. Graduating into normalcy in Covid times also means, taking each day as it comes because we just do not know how the game would change in a matter of few seconds.
A concerned member of the Institution,
Name withheld on request
Anti-microbial Resistance: Are we ready?
Living in the age of pandemic we have witnessed the rise of science and the fall of political might. COVID-19 has exposed the weakness of the health care systems but also opportunities galore especially with the coming in of Artificial Intelligence (AI) but the most serious threat which we have forgotten to address is the rise of antimicrobial resistance. Diseases which were once thought to have disappeared are rising with a vengeance.
The area of concern has always been the easy availability of drugs(medicines) without the need of prescription which is rampant in a country like ours. The Logical Indian in its article, ‘Anti-microbial Resistance: A Global Threat That Can Set The Medical World A Hundred Years Back’ warns about ignoring it at our own peril.
Time is of the essence and the need of the hour is the contribution of stakeholders from the medical community, researchers, science journalists and the will of the political machinery. In a state like Meghalaya which has a depressing health care system the health department should not wait for the eleventh hour to bring a silver bullet but should start filling the gaps starting with the control of use of antibiotics and promoting healthier lifestyles.
The book ‘An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of The Immune System’ by Matt Richtel reveals the importance of our defense mechanism through stories of four main characters which is a learning tool for us.
God doesn’t play dice with the universe
The infinite cosmos and its creation are still a complete mystery. No philosopher has been able to fathom this uncanny creative phenomenon. Scientists are still exploring with their limited tools. But what is that it is governed by a Super-intelligent Power which does not make mistakes. As inhabitants of this dot-like planet earth we humans live for a maximum of 100 years. Our end may come any time. Surprisingly, some feel that while on this earth they are free to do what they like including inflicting harm and hurting others, instead of comforting the aggrieved. If one does good to others, certainly one will be rewarded in good time by that Super-intelligent Power. This is a fundamental “belief” of almost all religions on this planet. Christ preached that man should always strive to be compassionate and humble.
What are the consequences of hurting others? Will we not get hurt back at any point of time as a reward? Certainly, our bad deeds will come back and haunt us in various ways. We may hurt our fellow brothers in certain ways but Nature has “infinite ways” of hurting us. Even Newton’s third law says, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
All philosophers have concluded that we are nothing but the “resultant outcome” of our past deeds. Every action of ours finally determines our destiny. Nature warns us to watch our every action and thoughts. Can we have a pleasant future if we bruise someone’s heart by bearing malice against them? The hammer of the “laws of karma” will fall hard on us. We may escape the police lathi or the punishment awarded by the courts of justice, but we cannot escape the laws of nature. It surely cuts us to size. Often, we are guided by our narrow pursuits and ambitions and may have become “blind” to the ethics that govern us and therefore become insensitive and hurt others. In this materialistic mission, we often lose our human compassion and sell our inherent virtues as commodities. But it is inevitable that our abusive and unrighteous action contaminates our thought process, ultimately making us weak. This in turn corrodes our spiritual strength.
Though we attempt to avoid earthly retribution, the guilt of our wrong actions unmistakably weigh us down. The retributive consequences we face in life may not be understood by us, but Mother Nature is unsparing. We are fully accountable for our thoughts and actions. We should stop blaming others. Perhaps that is why the great thinker Albert Einstein once exclaimed — ‘God does not play dice with the universe.’