Covid-19 Through The Eyes Of A Student
While it seems dark all around, parents have had enough time to bond with their children, the use of technology has increased and young people have been employed. Article written by Victoria Kioko, Victoria is a third year student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology pursuing her degree in Corporate Communications and Management. She is currently doing her attachment at Kenya Utalii College – Marketing & Communication Department.
Times are hard for all students – from those in primary, secondary and even tertiary learning institutions. The stringent effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have made life hard to plan. Prevailing circumstances are changing by the day and things seem to be getting worse. Each day, we hope and look forward to getting back to normalcy but the result is the opposite. Scientists from time to time keep giving us reports of evolved new variants of the virus.
When the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the outbreak in Wuhan early 2019, we received it as news, a disease in a far-off continent, which would subside with time. In our minds, we thought the disease would eventually clear away just like the Sars, Ebola, and other deadly diseases. Little did we know that it was here to stay, and that it would infect hundreds of millions of people, and literary bring the entire world to a standstill.
In Kenya, we were taken by surprise when all learning institutions suddenly and indefinitely closed down in March 2020; to curb the spread of the virus. The closure lasted not just a month or two, but shockingly nearly a whole year. As if that was not enough, we are at it again, another lockdown to try and tame the so-called third wave. Students, including those of tender ages in lower primary school, have had to comply with the Covid-19 regulations such as wearing of face masks and keeping social distance; even without fully comprehending but simply complying.
Not just numbers
At first, those infected and the lives lost came to us as just numbers through news outlets but today, these are people we know, our friends and even relatives. This raises our fear of infection and the subsequent stigmatization. The disease has to a great extent disrupted social activities amongst students, making them vulnerable to social and emotional loneliness. To say the least, this is a real struggle for students. This disease has left us with great uncertainty. We do not know what the future holds for us. We are, however, thankful to God for giving us some reprieve and allowing final year primary and secondary school students to sit for the national exams.
We have found hope and solace in an old saying which states that “every cloud has a silver lining.” We have also affirmed the words of the late Martin Luther King Jnr., who once said that, “only in the darkness can you see the stars.” True to these sayings, the closure of learning institutions has led to enhanced bonding between students and parents. It has also made many people, including employees and churches to embrace modern technology on virtual meetings such as zoom and google meetings. Besides, some students have secured part-time jobs, as others engage in hobbies that are earning them a livelihood and work experience.
E-learning as a way of life
It is also during this dark cloud of the pandemic that learning institutions have been forced to embrace online classes as a new way of learning. Before the adoption of online classes, many young people were sitting idle in rural homes, watching movies and waiting for Covid-19 to miraculously end before resuming learning.
Online education is for sure a noble and a highly commendable initiative. A major drawback, however, is that not every student has access to the internet and data bundles are way too expensive. A big number cannot afford laptops, and others do not have electricity in their rural homes. This has left them with no option but to defer learning, yet, every student wants to see progress and is eager to complete studies and move to the next level in life. Consequently, this is giving rise to unbelievably high levels of stress, anxiety, and even depression to these underprivileged children, their parents, and guardians.
I wish to call on the Kenyan Government and other well-wishers to come to the aid of such students so that a section of the nation’s population is not left behind as the rest move forward.
I want to encourage my fellow students by reminding them that God is still in control, and no situation lasts forever. The Kenyan Government has worked hard to equip students with necessary knowledge on prevention and curbing the spread of the virus. Let us all play our respective roles and together fight the pandemic. Spending time on social media trying to gather information on Covid-19 only ends up aggravating uncalled-for anxiety, fear, stress, and confusion; most probably, based on unsubstantiated posts.
How to cope
Evidence-based online workshops would be helpful in guidance, counseling, and insights. In addition, stress can be managed through doing exercises, getting enough sleep, having the right attitude, relaxation, and counseling services, among other means.
Stigmatizing people who have recovered from Covid-19, or those who are either in isolation or under quarantine, thereby leading to labeling stereotyping, and discrimination, is unwarranted and deemed social injustice. This can only be associated with a lack of knowledge about how Covid-19 spreads, and we are well above that. It will only lead to people trying to hide the symptoms and failing to seek immediate health care and eventually making it more difficult to control the spread of infection.
Amid the global adversity, we should seek divine intervention from our Almighty God, unite, and strictly adhere to the World Health Organization Covid-19 guidelines. Let us demonstrate solidarity, kindness, and care for one another; and together, God being on our side, we shall conquer the pandemic. United we stand and divided we shall all fall apart. No one is safe until we are all safe.
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