With the COVID challenge posed to Indian school education, reluctant schools and teachers have been forced to adapt to e-learning. Though online tutorials like Byju’s or Mindspark had gained popularity before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, most boards and teachers were not ready to give it a try. Lockdown changed the perspective. With schools closed for months, e-learning came to the forefront, across the world. Even in developed countries, students have been the primary movers of this initiative. Teachers grudgingly followed the trend, hoping to return to the classrooms soon.
Since the current situation doesn’t seem to return back to normal any soon, certain educational reforms are required to make online classes effective. Educational reform is the term given to “the goal of changing public education with the focus on more scientific, humanistic, pragmatic or democratic principles”. It comprises any planned changes in the way a school or school system functions, from teaching methodologies to administrative processes.
In most urban schools apps such as Zoom, Extramarks, etc are being put to use to continue the process of education. Not only the formal system went online but private tuitions, as well as hobby courses, went online, too. What this proved was there is already an infrastructure present, it just hasn’t been tapped yet. However, for the complex Indian school education system divided by multiple boards of unequal standards, the benefits of technology will be available to a section of teachers and students that adapt to it and can afford it.
The announcements made by the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the month of May 2020 also introduced changes in the education system — universities in the country were given permission to start online classes from May 30 for the new courses, special e-content being developed for visually and hearing impaired students and an online initiative to provide psychological counseling to students and families who have been overwhelmed with the developments around them that the pandemic and lockdown has triggered.
But there are bigger problems to solve for which reforms are required:
- Bharat net is connecting all the villages with high-speed broadband networks. Part of the project connecting remote areas in North-East India is already complete. But it should come up with better and faster strategies and collaborate with other broadbands to increase and provide services as soon as possible in other rural parts of the nation too. Ensuring digital connectivity, therefore, may be easier.
- The 2011 project to distribute cheap ‘Akash’ tablets to promote e-learning in villages was unsuccessful due to quality and procurement issues. The scheme can be revived.
- Adapting to online education is easier for English medium students and teachers especially for those from the private schools due to ready availability of tools, content or resources. The situation is barely any good for vernacular schools that dominate the Indian school education scene.
- With the shift of learning to online platforms, cybersecurity remains a crucial objective. To ensure that teachers and students’ learning takes place in a secure, confidential, and positive environment certain urgent reforms must be immediately introduced.
Technology, resources, internet connection, etc are available and can be afforded by only a set of people in urban cities. With the current Covid-19 situation the reforms mentioned above which are to be implemented by the government in its most effective way is not possible in one day. It is a long term process that requires at least 5 to 8 years.
At Mitti Ke Rang, we started with a COVID-19 community support fundraising, as an emergency response to provide a safety net to families. This will help them survive in the lockdown period. We aim to directly support these families by providing a minimum wage, through transferring the same into their accounts or partner with local NGO, Organisation, Fellow, or a Volunteer and support them with groceries.
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