Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit India, around 286 million schoolchildren have been affected. These children are the future of our country. They will be the top bureaucrats, businessmen, and leaders that make a difference to the world. Education is what provides us with the necessary knowledge, not just to pass exams, but to develop the skillset we wish to achieve, and it doesn’t stop with a graduate or a post-graduate degree. It is rightly said, “Lifelong learning is the future of work.”
A lot of schools have resorted to online classes and online modules of learning. Students attend live classes daily, lessons are uploaded and homework is given. But, the conditions have not been good for the schools situated in small cities, be it run privately or by the government. There have been media reports of teachers being compelled to do menial jobs due to the present conditions. Those schools are out of money, for no fee is submitted, and providing salary has become an arduous task.
Perhaps a new sociological divide has emerged, a ‘digital divide‘. Students who have the zeal of studying and exceeding in life, living in poor conditions are suffering due to the lack of private space, making them prone to COVID-19 and deprived of education due to unavailability of a smartphone.
There is no doubt that online education is good. The internet or platforms like YouTube, in particular, are filled with infinite videos on any topic one can imagine, making it a highly competitive education market, for only the best videos to get the top rankings. Be it a student of class 5 reading NCERT textbooks or a working IT professional seeking to upskill his coding, online education provides room for all. Videos of the best professors from across the globe are available at one’s comfort anytime anywhere, and that too for FREE.
Technology can also act as a levelling factor in the field of education. Around 25% of students drop out after class 8 and 50% after class 10 thereafter settling for a menial job and a loss of productive human resource for the nation, today the number of users of smart devices in rural India have exponentially enhanced. Initiatives like SWAYAM, E- Pathshala by the government are working to this end.
Startups are doing their bit to provide the best quality education, the biggest Indian education startups have attracted huge investments from some of the biggest companies on the planet. In a country like India, which has the largest number of young population, and with the current surge for online education, it would be no surprise that these companies fully take over these companies or start one of their own.
There is one area where online education lags behind, I feel it is the sociological development of an individual. Human is a social animal and needs to interact, talk, play, run around, and make friends. I hope this social distancing doesn’t lead to ’emotional distancing’! Even the one-to-one interaction between the teacher and student is being missed. The interaction helps a teacher monitor a student, guide, scold them when needes, and most importantly, be a guide throughout the journey.
Education in our schools and colleges is not just about knowledge, but it’s a way of moulding out our personality. For the time being, we will have to make do with virtual classrooms until it is safe for children.