A goddess who is typically adorned by stacks of books and pens will have around her smartphones and computers this time.
The classroom reality has changed in the post-pandemic normal and students at Jadavpur Vidyapith have recreated the change at their school Saraswati Puja.
Their theme: Sikshar Nabarupayan (the new in education).
In-person classes resumed for Classes from IX to XII on February 12, but many schools, like the one in Jadavpur, are continuing with online classes as well. The schools have split each class into smaller sections, which are taking turns in attending in-person and online classes, to avoid crowding.
On Monday afternoon, on the eve of Saraswati Puja, Class XII students Anirban Manna and Anjan Madal and several others were busy setting up the makeshift dais for the goddess on the campus of Jadavpur Vidyapith.
The goddess contained in a model of a smartphone has two replicas of classroom on either side — one suggesting how it looked like in the pre-pandemic times and the other reflecting the post-pandemic reality.
The blackboard of the pre-pandemic classroom bears the date March 18 — the day in-person classes were held for the last time before campuses were shut down as a precaution against Covid-19.
There is also a replica of a teacher sitting in front of a desktop addressing students in an online class.
“The contrast was necessary to depict how students and teachers have adapted themselves to the changing times in their quest for education. We have gone digital,” said Somsuvra Dasgupta, an assistant teacher of the school who is involved in organising the puja.
At the base of the dais there are models of two students, both holding smartphones with earphones plugged into their ears. One student is seated and the other is in a reclining posture.
“While attending online classes, we at times recline on a cushion. At other times we remain seated,” said Anirban Manna, a Class XII student of science stream.
Classmate Anirban said: “We can relate to the theme as we have lived it and will continue to live it for quite some time.”
Masks and a replica of the novel coronavirus have been used as décors.
“This will remind the visitors that the pandemic is still on and we have to keep following the safety measures till the threat of the virus is neutralised,” headmaster Parimal Bhattacharya said.
A pedestal of lamps has been set up. “This is to suggest that the light of education will continue to burn through the pandemic,” Bhattacharya said.
The school has engaged 10 students of Classes XI and XII to set up the models and do other puja-related work. The usual get-together on the campus on the occasion of Saraswati Puja has been cancelled because of the pandemic.
Visitors will have to see the idol and the decoration from outside.
“Fruits (without being cut into pieces) and 500 pieces of sweets will be distributed. We will try to livestream the puja on digital platforms and share the links with students,” said Mita Bhattacharya, another teacher.