Albert Einstein rightly said, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”
On the morning of 9th April, we received a notification from one of the most reputed schools for online introduction for my niece because she has recently been admitted to primary class. We were very happy, that finally, she would get some time during this pandemic. The advancement in technology is impeccable, all it took was a single login. We were all excited; “Kahan hum notepad, pencil aur pen se padhna sikhe the, aur hamare bachche ab laptop par poem sikhenge (We used to study with our notepads, pen and pencil, and these kids today read poems on the laptop)”, but then I started thinking about those in rural areas.
The world is in a state of lockdown, and this inactivity has largely impacted education systems across the globe. Along with eating and taking care of ourselves, education can neither be neglected nor stopped. Countries across the globe are imparting education digitally, but, is India ready for it? It is 2020, yet, our education system is archaic. Back in 2013, online education was promised to our students, and it has been seven years since then. Where have we reached?
Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 provides free education to children between the age of 6-14 years. Yet, India ranks 135th in the Human Development Index. We have colossally failed to impart offline education to children. How distant is the dream of 100% online absorption?
The Government of India has provided many ways to deliver educational lessons during the lockdown, via mobile apps, DTH services, and various Hindi softwares. Several NGOs are providing education to privilege children in such a time, but this is not enough. Without a teacher, it is not easy to educate students.
The financial situation and unprecedented circumstances have paved the way for several sleepless nights. How can they afford an education through digital technology? Students from the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) might be facing the starkest consequences of the digital divide.
We need to rethink about providing affordable education to everyone. We need to find out a new way. We need to find a desirable way to provide equal access to all children in order to promote free and compulsory education!