In March early this yr, they have been making ready for the brand new session. Their outlets have been brimful with new inventory, fancy college baggage, uniforms of varied sizes, and vibrant stationery price lakhs as the faculties readied to roll out the brand new session. And then their world turned the wrong way up.
Little did the well-known ‘Mayor school uniforms’ in Sector 8 know that 2020 would consign the uniforms to retailer and drive them to promote nightwear and lingerie to make ends meet.
Even as different companies opened up steadily and college students continued to interact with their academics by means of on-line lessons, there was negligible demand for uniforms, equipment and college buses. For all these into companies allied to varsities, 2020 was an unmitigated catastrophe.
Step into the Sector 8 outlet of Mayor college uniforms, and you’ll be greeted by nightwear.
A lady supervisor laments, “Schools can compel the parents to pay fee for online classes but they can’t compel them to wear school uniforms and then attend classes. We didn’t have any idea that our business will ever dry up like this. Now we are surviving by selling lingerie et al. Our uniforms and bags are lying packed. We had a big store in the Industrial area also but it is deserted as no one needs uniforms, bags, or tiffins to attend virtual classes.”
NK Jain who owns Fashioners college uniform in Sector 17, Chandigarh, stated they’re struggling large losses. “We have a large stock of unsold school uniforms, bags, shoes et al.”
Generally, this time of the yr sees mother and father of kindergarteners making purchases for the approaching session, however given the Covid uncertainty, not many are venturing out this time.,
The well-known Manchanda guide retailer additionally wears a abandoned look. Sales, we’re informed, have fallen to twenty p.c.
“We have introduced a gift section but even that isn’t working. It is all because children stopped moving out. Children will buy our stuff only when they move out with their friends or go for birthday parties. But nothing happened this year. Ours was the business that suffered the most. Thankfully this building is ours, else we would have also had to shoulder the burden of rent,” stated a gross sales supervisor.
Covid-19 introduced the classroom dwelling, and gave mother and father the freedom to enter it at their selecting.
Some faculties did attempt to maintain the identical routine for college kids with their academics starting meeting or yoga at 8.30 am adopted by lessons and a break at 11, all on-line.
Atul Khanna, Director of Strawberry Fields High School, stated, “Covid grounded all of us. It struck us unexpectedly. It created new challenges for parents, students and teachers. Making online learning a way of life was exciting but not an easy task. Students adapted well but we realise it cannot substitute for physical classroom learning.”
He added, “It has made us acutely aware of the gap between the privileged and not so privileged. That is an area that needs serious thought. To expect students in rural areas to have smart phones, laptops, uninterrupted internet connectivity and the ability to concentrate virtually is not realistic. Overall the education sector has tremendous resilience but there is a lot of ground still that needs to be covered.”
Rustom Kerawalla, an educationist, known as it an especially difficult yr for the schooling sector.
“Educational institutions closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and technology brought several ‘firsts’ for the sector. Disruptive changes in online education ensured continuity in education. Teachers incorporated technology with élan and included augmented and virtual reality as part of their framework. The coming decade will redefine education as technological advancements will further strengthen our education system,” he predicted.
FROM BUS DRIVERS TO VENDORS
Covid-19 dealt a heavy blow to these surviving on the fringes of the schooling sector. Kailash, who was working as a bus driver with a personal college now sells heat garments alongside roadside in his household Alto automotive. This is the state of bus drivers, conductors and attendants who misplaced their jobs within the college bus enterprise. With no takers for college buses, drivers and attendants have been rendered jobless.
Gurmeet Singh, a contractor with Manav Mangal college, Sector 11, known as 2020 a catastrophe.
“Insurance of a vehicle is around Rs 50,000 and every bus driver and conductor was paid up to Rs 20,000 and a lady attendant Rs 8000. We had about 30 of them. When lockdown was announced for the first two months, I paid them from my savings thinking that schools will reopen in May but they didn’t, how could I have continued to employ them. I have been into this business for 30 years now and I was absolutely penniless this year,” Gurmeet Singh rued.
He added, “One of our most able bus drivers is working as a helper with a welder while one is selling vegetables. They are just trying to make ends meet.”
Bus contractors stated that even the yearly insurance coverage of faculty buses has lapsed and so they don’t have funds to resume it. “The insurance was due in June but even that has ended. We don’t know if we will be able to run our buses in 2021 also,” Gurmeet stated.
That is one query that’s preying on everybody on this sector.