One understands the condition we are in but to see the ministers taking no cognizance of the awful situation of our education system is heart wrenching. By looking at the social media timeline of our education ministry, one wouldn’t even come to the conclusion that there exists any problem in the system.
It’s the end of the month of April. We have come a long way since the onset of the pandemic and are currently LIVING in perhaps the most catastrophic times we have witnessed in the recent past. With daily cases ranging close to the three hundred thousand mark and the emergence of a new variant, the situation is far from fine. One would consider that if such a situation is prevalent in the nation, then the government would be proactive, doing its best in ensuring that the covid cases are under control, that those who have been affected by the virus are taken care of, that all patients have access to hospital beds, and that patients are supplied with enough oxygen and essential lifesaving drugs so as to lower the casualties. The situation on ground is quite the opposite. With the government busy conducting rallies for the upcoming elections and no-one to take care of the ordinary citizens of this country, the scenario is grim. While worldwide, lockdowns are being eased, India is on the verge of another country-wide lockdown.
The main focus of this article is to explore the impact of this mismanagement on the education system of India. Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, schools and colleges across the nation have been shut, more or less throughout the period. Some states did re-open the institutions but had to close them again as the cases continued to rise. With no scope left for offline classes due to obvious reasons, the whole of the education system shifted to the virtual space. But was the process so efficient?
Data shows that a mere 3 percent of the poorest 20 percent households have access to a computer and that just 9 percent have access to the internet. This was the basis of the “digital divide” that was to follow. The result of this inequality was that those deserving students from the under-privileged sections of the society faced a major set-back. If we were to take into account just the national capital, the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi himself stated that around 15% of the students enrolled in the Delhi government schools have been missing from the classes conducted online. There are close to 15 lakhs students enrolled in over 1100 Delhi government schools.
These statistics reflect just the condition of the schools in the national capital and includes only government schools. It is important for us to note at this point that India has a large number of private schools which are small scale and are spread throughout the country. Since parents don’t have the money to spend on their children’s school fees, owing to the economic recession India is currently in, students are not able to gain their formal education. Since these small-scale schools have been shut and hence are short on funds, many of the teachers in such schools have either been removed or are facing severe pay-cuts on already dismal salary that they receive.
Lest we forget the situation our universities are in. Even the prestigious universities in the country like our own Jamia Millia Islamia have been shut since March 2020. Students do not have access to the library and many other amenities they would have otherwise enjoyed.
It is not as if we lack intellectual minds that may suggest appropriate policies. There exist several recommendations from the academicians. More suggestions can be pooled-in from the public but all this can only be done when the government acknowledges the problem and reassures the student fraternity that it will take necessary steps to restore normalcy.
For example, medical students received their vaccination doses in their respective universities, similar vaccination program can also be carried out for students in schools and colleges. For small scale private schools, all kinds of taxes can be relaxed and different kinds of bills can also be waived off. These steps will strengthen the finances of those small institutions. There is also a constant demand from parents belonging to the middle class to lower the fees in big, established private schools.
Although some steps have been taken regarding the same, it has not been entirely successful in providing relief to the parents. Other programs like workshops for teachers in these small schools for using the online mode of education more efficiently can be organized. The need of this hour is to re-enroll the students that have withdrawn their admission. Shutting down institutions completely may be an appropriate decision as of now but it can’t remain shut indefinitely. After all it is about the life of the future generation of this country.
Aditya Jha is a student pursuing Psychology from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Nidhi
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.