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What Will Be The New Normal For The Education Sector?


A couple of days back I came across an online column about Finland’s evolving education system which is now looking at getting rid of “school subjects”, replacing that with a promising, in fact evocative, “phenomenon-based learning”.

This and the general ongoings make me wonder how this pandemic will have lasting effects not just on our lives, lifestyles, careers or professional settings; in my mind, the biggest wave of transformation will perhaps come in the Education sector.

Here is what comes to my mind:

A girl studying at home.
Will we see free access to education, through broadcasts on National TV? Image Source: Centre for Civil Society

Education Will Get Rid Of Its Intermediaries:

By this, I mean not just coaching classes but also smaller universities, career consultations, and perhaps even our parents. Instead of treading the blurred gold-dusted footprints of some “Sharmaji ka beta”, we’ll finally be on our own. As individuals, we, even as children, will finally have agency—a say in what we want to learn, how and when. I predict a clear push first towards homeschooling but eventually towards a free-flow unschooling model where we can follow our guts and our nose.

Now, let’s look at what it will do to us.

Classrooms Without Boundaries:

My guess is the effect of this pandemic would first be a globalisation of education.

Think, why do we study in class 9? No, not as much to quench our curiosity, as much as to score a perfect 99.8 percentile in my 10th boards, and 12th, and so on.

What for? So, I can get admission in good colleges? What for? So I can get good degrees, lucrative career options and 8-digit job offers. Now, this entire premise banks on the assumption of “limited resources”—that there are only so many seats in a given college or university.

Now what if the online model of education crashes down that assumption? What if at the click of a mouse (keypad, okay!), I can attend a lecture from Harvard? Essentially teachers and professors who, in real life, wouldn’t have as much possibility of crossing paths in ten lifetimes will come in a direct competition now, and only the best will survive.

Will we see free access to education, through broadcasts on National TV? Well, it could be, could it not?

Will we see monopolised education? Yes, likely.

Will we see politicised education? We will have to wait and watch.

A woman studying biology on a tablet.
Gaining agency over our own lives will perhaps begin with “free choice” in education.

Content Customisation:

I think it will be two steps from here and two steps from there. While our worldviews become globalised with “roti, kapda, makaan, internet”, education modules will also perhaps be customise based on student cohorts (accentuation, examples, applications, etc.).

Personal Agency Over Education, Career, And Life:

Thinking of the ‘inside’ effects of the shifting paradigm in education brings me to a keyword which might sound a tad bit philosophical but is not: Swadharma (Your own true nature).

What are we curious about? How do we want to be educated? When? How long?

Gaining agency over our own lives will perhaps begin with “free choice” in education. Education will finally become a personal pursuit.

Will that cause a lack of depth? Over-specialisation? Will be get stuck with misplaced choices made early on? Yes, perhaps. And yet, there is a certain thrill in imagining a world of education with interdisciplinary possibilities, curiosity-driven choices, and passion-based careers.

Will education move towards collaboration rather than competition as its measure? Will it pit us against our friends like before? Will education still be tested with scores? Likely not.

Will education continue to be specialised or holistic, now that we know chalk from cheese better than before? Will education include our feelings and not just our thoughts? Maybe!

Will education help us become better just at jobs or at life? Well, I’m hopeful for the latter!

Also, my belief is that this shift will be matched up on the outside, too. With walls of corporates melting down in the #newnormal, ‘work from home‘ or ‘flexi work’ becoming the order of the day with supplementary benefits such as insurance cover, as well as increasing costs of physical spaces at the same time, there is a likely shift to consultation and freelance-based work arrangements.

Choice of education—what, when, how and how much—will now become goal-based and dream-based. We’ll grow tiny entrepreneurs all around us and in our homes. Under such a regime, personal pursuits, personal branding and personal choices will become monarchs in a person’s lives (a welcome shift from “Sharmaji ka beta” syndrome.)

All in all, as the world is still shaking up and finding its new equilibrium, we can safely say we are up for some interesting times in the space of Education.

And it makes me insanely hopeful: that, finally the time will come. Our lives will change soon.

We will become ourselves through our education!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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