International Webinar Organized by the West Bengal State University on COVID-19 & Higher Education
Dignitaries from India and abroad in the webinar
The outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19 has impacted every sphere of life and education is one of the worst affected which may have long-lasting effects on society. With the nationwide lockdown being enforced, all teachers were thrown into a new unforeseen, unprecedented situation without any mental preparation. The teachers at all levels are struggling hard to cope-up with the situation. The human, intellectual, physical and material resources available in India need to be mobilized at this juncture to combat against Covid-19. This is also the time to explore the new avenues to cope up with the present crisis caused by the Covid-19. The Kothari Commission (1964-66) stated that “the destiny of India is being shaped in her classroom”. India has the second largest higher education system in the world. It has more than 993 universities, 39931 colleges with 3.73 crore students and 14.16 lacs (as per AISHE, 2018-19).
The higher education institutions have to take the dominant role in exploring possibilities, solutions, way-outs, prospects out of the crisis driven by the Covid-19. They have to save the continuity of higher education with resources available, innovations, research and development (R&D) etc. The very pandemic has significantly disrupted the higher education sector as well, which is also a critical determinant of a country’s economic future. Naturally a multi-pronged strategy is necessary to manage the crisis and build a resilient Indian education system in the long term. Capacity building of the faculty members of higher education institutes through online webinars, conferences and workshops should be increased to equip them to deliver online education, sensitizing HEIs about their social accountability and responsibilities.
In this context, the Department of Education, West Bengal State University has moved for the first time in Bengal towards this direction by organizing a three-day international Webinar on ‘Leadership and Management of Education – a global crisis: challenges and possibilities’ in association with Council for Educational Administration and Management (CEAM), West Bengal Chapter from 27th May to 29th May, 2020. Professor Basab Chaudhuri, Hon’ble Vice Chancellor of the West Bengal State University has officially inaugurated the webinar. On the opening day, Professor Chudhuri has minutely stated all the emerging issues related to management and leadership in the higher education institutes during lockdown and post Covid-19. He has also touched upon the emerging role of teachers, administrators, students and researchers under the current crisis. More than 200 teachers, academicians, policy makers and scholars have participated in this webinar. Out of this, more than 100 participants have presented their research papers based on the focal theme of the webinar. The renowned resource persons form USA, Canada, Bangladesh, Gujarat, Kerala and West Bengal have also delivered and exchanged their reflections on the ongoing global crisis in higher education due to the Covid-19. Dr. Shnaoli Chakraborty Acharya as organizing director of the webinar has been satisfied with the overwhelming response for participation in this programme from the teaching community. She also mentioned that the university authority has always cooperated and guided us and acted as a positive catalyst in this webinar. Departmental Head, Professor Abhijit Kumar Pal, Dr. Ajit Mondal and other faculty members have also taken the leading role in making it a grand success. The organizing committee are hopeful about the publication of the post Webinar Proceedings in a book form soon.