Pandemic - boon or bane to education? | Sunday Observer

Pandemic - boon or bane to education?

5 June, 2021

There is no need for extensive explanations of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on diverse aspects of modern life. This article examines how the educational activities can be continued when onsite operations cannot be maintained.

Prior to the pandemic, the critics had been lamenting the traditional approaches to all phases of the curriculum development; from planning, content, methods, implementing, evaluating to reporting as they relate to teaching, learning, and assessment activities especially in the field of teaching English as a second language is concerned.

In addition, the same quarters have scrutinised the teacher training, methods applied in the classroom, available classroom facilities, the level of educational and economical resources available to parents, and a host of other factors as contributing to poor English language performance in learners.

In their criticism of Sri Lanka’s English language education system, there is no shortage of evidence coming from critics to prove that the standard of English among students is low even though they have spent years in school and thereafter.


Nevertheless, the same old Sri Lankan educational system has produced many world-renowned scientists, medical professionals, and academics who have excelled in their respective fields, as well as their English language proficiency is unquestionable.

The coronavirus pandemic has not left any stone unturned, and the field of education is not an exception. No experts have come up with any other way to continue the educational activities than incorporating technology into them.

Once again, critics of the traditional approaches to academia are also not supportive of virtual platforms for academic activities particularly following the pandemic.

We can hear endless negative remarks about educational activities on the virtual platforms by the same critics. They argue that most of the learners are inaccessible to the latest technological aspects to learn on the virtual platforms and they challenge the effectiveness of teaching and learning activities on these platforms.

They argue about teachers’ technical expertise in handling the latest developments in education is minimal as well.On the other hand, proponents of innovation believe that the virtual mode would be an excellent platform for carrying out curricular activities and be a viable solution to the shortcomings in traditional approaches to teaching English in Sri Lanka.

It is pertinent, at this point, to mention that even in Applied Sciences, there have been no one hundred percent perfect conditions that you can precisely prove your findings in the laboratory yet must justify the mismatch between the results.


As such, one cannot expect Social Sciences research to yield immediate results since it is difficult to run direct laboratory experiments and to control variables. Therefore, before jumping in to conclusions, observe innovations how they work overtime.

In other development, the western world has moved beyond arguing over how to teach and learn on virtual platforms and has shifted its focus on assessment security – how to conduct reliable assessments on such platforms.

It focuses on alternate assessment strategies as well instead of formative and summative written assessments.Unlike traditional methods that only assess the student’s knowledge, alternative assessment or authentic assessment is a method of evaluation that measures a student’s level of proficiency in a subject as opposed to the student’s level of knowledge.

The overall goal of alternative assessment is to prove that they can perform tasks and have knowledge of what they are doing.

Thus, it is imperative that people at all levels work together to ensure a proper mechanism is in place and teaching and learning activities are carried out uninterrupted.

It is important that those at the top decision-making levels, those who implement the policy decisions, and others who interpret policy decisions from top to bottom get together to design a system that enables all stakeholders to carry out curricular activities including assessments in a reliable and valid manner in Sri Lanka.


By establishing the mechanism, educators will also be able to address some of the weaknesses of the system that existed before Covid-19 and to implement the innovations via a virtual platform. In this line of viewpoint, the pandemic will be a boon in terms of educational activities are concerned.

The moment has come to decide whether to adopt new methods of academic activities and adapt to the virtual platforms with suitable alterations to match the context and move forward by updating oneself or to resist the changes and disappear from the ever-changing world.

 (The writer is a Senior Lecturer at the Eastern University, Sri Lanka.) [email protected]

(PhD in Language Assessment / CRELLA / UK)
Senior Lecturer in English
Department of English Language Teaching
Eastern University, Sri Lanka