Maisha Tabassum Mona talks how the COVID-19 is affecting youths’ social life, future of education, family and love relationships
GREEN Day’s song ‘Wake me up when September ends’ is now, so to say, young people’s anthem as the government has taken a decision to close down all educational institutions till September if the current COVID-19 pandemic does not ease up. After the quick spread out of the virus followed by compulsive social distancing, our life has undergone a total reformation. Things are drastically changing by the day and people from every stratum of society are struggling to adjust with the all too novel ambience they are now cast into. No doubt coronavirus has suffocated human life globally with its almost invincible onslaught with several millions infected, many more locked down in their homes, and not to mention the huge death toll every day.
Social distancing was initially intended to be a transitory measure against this highly contagious disease but that supposed-to-be measure has now come to stay with us for an indefinite period giving an inevitable feeling of impending disaster for our youths. Youths are going to be the worst sufferers of this pandemic being in both mental and pecuniary hurdles added with the possibility of confronting many other unforeseen ancillary challenges.
Higher Secondary Certificate examinees
A TOTAL of thirteen lakh, fifty-one thousand five hundred five examinees are going to sit for the Higher Secondary examination, which in its normal course was expected to be held in April this year. But as we see it, it is mid-May, and the examination has not even started. Neither the Examination Board authorities nor the examinees have any faintest idea when exactly it will be held causing an unbearably traumatised spell for the candidates in consideration. The uncertainty of their getting into higher education institutions and avoiding session bottleneck once they pass their higher secondary has all the more doubled their worries.
APPARENTLY, the tertiary level or university students are not suffering the way the higher secondary examinees are although the possibility of their plunging into a complex session bottleneck has almost become imminent. Save some private universities, none of the public universities have started any online instructions/teaching, most importantly, because, firstly, they do not have any provision for such mechanism or network setup, and secondly, a huge number of public university students come from rural settings and distant places of the country who are, most likely, out of the reach of any digital facilities. Added to that is the problem of ensuring that every single student, out of the huge roll strength that most public universities have, is reached through the network every time teachers give out their lessons. They, in fact, happen to be the worst silent sufferers of the pandemic.
Tutoring and part-timer students
IN BANGLADESH a considerable number of students from middle and low middle income bracket families bear their tuition expenses by private tutoring or doing part-time jobs. Moreover, a huge number of public university students earn quick and extra money through tuition to use their income as outlays for buying personable computers and other such accessories that they cannot otherwise afford. Some even add to their family income too to meet emergency expenses. All these jobs have now become vulnerable because of the shutdown.
Tajrin of Dhaka University is such an example, who used to do several private tuitions not only to meet her own university and personal expenses but also to help her family financially. But this lockdown has forced her to stop those tuitions only to earn agonising slings of insults from her landlord for not being able to pay the house rent. It is true that many universities have taken measures to extend monetary help to disadvantaged students but they are not simply adequate. This lumpsum help is in reality cannot meet up the students’ day to day necessities.
Students who would work at corporate outlets, customer care desks or restaurants are now remaining unemployed because of shutdown being financially numb.
Fresh graduates and intending go-abroad students
STUDENTS who are about to graduate or have just graduated are also in deep distress. Many of them had plans to go abroad or got admitted for higher studies in universities abroad are stuck now simply to brood apprehensively about their future. Nothing is working, neither within the country nor outside. All airlines are non-functioning, and although all foreign universities are running their academic courses online, it is impossible for Bangladeshi freshers to access their network once they are not physically present in the countries the universities are located.
As for about-to-be graduates who have the requirements for completion of internship, are also stuck with uncertainty as most of the organisations they are attached with as interns are not operating now.
YOUNG entrepreneurs are most vulnerably placed in the business world for their financial fragility. They will fail to sustain for long if their investment does not give any potential return for a long time — the virus has become indicative of that ominousness. During this crisis period of COVID-19 there is every possibility that these fresh entrepreneurs will cease to exist if the situation does not perk up soon.
THE world is, undoubtedly, in unprecedented turmoil. The unemployment rate has soared at the highest ever in the developed countries because of long lock down. Bangladesh being a middle-income developing country is at high risk not only because of colossal number of jobless people during the crisis but also because of liquidity jeopardy that will persist even after the pandemic. International Monetary Fund has already announced the ‘Great lockdown’ will bring down global GDP as low as 3 per cent in 2020 and as a result the ‘Third World countries’ will suffer the most. Obviously post-corona days are going to bring tremendous hardship for us, especially for the students who have already completed their education who will remain jobless because of employment crisis as a result of the longtime numbness in the economic activities of the country.
I HAVE so far discussed how our youths can be affected academically and economically during and after the pandemic. Now I would dwell upon young people’s mental state during this long quarantine.
A prima facie study will establish that families are definitely enjoying a strong bonding of togetherness as a result of the lockdown. But a deep exploration into the real situation will reveal that youth mental health is not as steady as it should be. A recent survey by BBC and CNN, and subsequently endorsed by the World Health Organization, says that domestic violence of multiple kinds has increased worldwide because of long quarantine. These violent incidents create longtime impact on the young minds creating unhealthy mental health.
Young people like to live a life of their own. But spending time only with members of their families bore them and soon gets on their nerves. Because of the age gap they often indulge in controversies and arguments with their parents and elders. As we all know most a lot of urban youth have the habit of going to bed late and getting up late which is not appreciated by the elders.
Mukit, a young university student, also has had this habit but now because of his parents’ insistence he has to get up early with all the disgust of the world. Thus grows more family grudge than bond of togetherness.
Love life of the youth
YOUNG people who are engaged in any relationship are also suffering a lot as they cannot hangout the way they used to in normal situation. They all pass their time and remain tensed when they would be able to meet again, if at all. Limiting love life over messenger, video call, tweet, text and such other means is not all that they want — and that too is accessible within the metropolis.
THROUGHOUT human history nothing has killed more humans than infectious diseases. Before COVID-19 the world had been ravaged by plague, smallpox, cholera, flue, EVD, SARS, and many more. COVID-19 reminds us, no matter how developed the world is, days of infectious diseases are not over, in fact there are many more unknown ones stealthily lurking in the corner. It is time we devoted ourselves in the healthcare researches more than researching on developing destructive weapons.
We young generation wish to get over this crisis soon enough and wake up afresh in the world that will be healthier, friendlier and more colorful, built by our own loving efforts and hands.
Maisha Tabassum Mona is a young writer.
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