“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”
The above quote was rightly said by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Students all over the world whine about the amount of homework they have been loaded with, the number of books they are asked to read by their teachers, the way they are scolded by their parents to perform better if they score less than usual.
But, what students don’t understand is that these fragments, which spiral and lay the foundation for what we commonly term as ‘education,’ is what enables them to write swiftly and complete their work efficiently. It is this which helps the books enhance their vocabulary, and the words of motivation are what makes them fighters, preparing them to combat every obstacle with coherence.
Education is an important facet of our lives, inculcating life values and knowledge which are imperative in making us the polished individuals we are today. But this education is subjected to disparities. Not every person has access to this asset. In our country, many sections cannot acquire education due to a plethora of factors, the most immediate one being poverty. While states like Kerala have a very high literacy rate, others like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have a large sum of illiterate population. Due to high rates of impoverishment, students drop out of school to establish a partnership with their families for survival.
Education facilitates personality development and a cosmopolitan outlook which accommodates change and open-mindedness, thus leading to better judgement and decision-making abilities. The value for education and the will to make it accessible for all as enshrined in the Constitution of our country.
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution prescribes the ‘Right to Life and Liberty’, the scope of which has been expanded. The ‘Right to Education’ under Article 21-A was incorporated through the 86 Amendment Act of 2002. This advocated the foundation of a number of schools in the Indian Subcontinent via the Municipal Corporations in the urban areas, and schemes such as the mid-day meal, mandatory education for those among the 6-14 age group and incentives for the girl child.
It is clearly elucidated how education played an important role in our lives and continues to be revered. Education is not just an individualistic value, but a collective one. It brings like-minded people together and merges their divergent aspirations into one. This is what happened during the Nationalist Movement of India. Education liberates a people from an oppressive rule like that of British Imperialist Rule by the English East India Company.
In today’s world, under the clutches of the deadly Coronavirus, education is significant since scientists and policymakers are struggling to prepare a vaccine which may act as an antidote for COVID-19. However, education, which would help facilitate such marvels is not accessible to many. In the era of technological advancements, the availability of these resources is vastly uneven.
Many sections of society, especially the economically weaker sections, can’t afford technologies such as Wi-Fi modems for uninterrupted internet access, data packs, and even devices such as laptops and iPads. With the advent of online classes, those who can acquire these gadgets and technologies attend, while those who cannot, don’t. In this case, indirect discrimination takes place.
A number of alternatives can be adopted to prevent such forms of alienation. First, instead of conducting classes on platforms utilizing the internet, television can be used as the medium of teaching. Pre-recorded videos can be screened or broadcasted for students to view and learn. The medium of the television does not consume Wi-Fi, and can hence, be accessed by those who don’t have an internet connection.
Second, classroom materials such as assignments and notes can be physically posted to students so that they could keep up with their classwork. In the times of crisis, one must utilize all materials which are useful. The Indian Postal System is an efficient medium for facilitating the movement of goods manually.
Third, the syllabus can be reduced; since online teaching can never replace physical classrooms with the immense scope for discussion, and ambience for learning, the syllabus could be reduced so that students don’t feel over-stressed and can engage in self-study without facing arduous challenges. The students who don’t have access to the facilities of these classes would be able to catch up with the syllabus quickly.
Online classes do not provide enough scope for debate and doubt-clearing. While in some cases the rate of syllabus advancement is sluggish, it may skyrocket in others. This may further aggravate problems, since students would encounter difficulty in catching up with their classmates, thus leading to a deterioration in their grades.
Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Education has the power to uplift people from their despondence, condemn and even eradicate oppressive superstitions, enhance ones’ knowledge, and even liberate people in the face of adversity. If education can accomplish such heights, it can surge higher and even defeat tougher challenges, like the pandemic.
“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today,” said Malcolm X.
Keeping this thought in mind, we much pursue the quest into the future, for education is stronger than any armour, any weapon, it shields us, and enhances us. It holds the power to change. While we alone may not have the power to bring about such change, the voice of our education compels us to strive for the best.
I would like to conclude by quoting Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.