Walking a tight rope: A look into the strife for education in a pandemic stricken era
Having online classes is no longer an unfamiliar phenomenon. Ever since the pandemic hit, several attempts have been made worldwide for setting up virtual classrooms to ensure the smooth circulation of knowledge. But as easy as it sounds with our proud advancements in technology, reaching an acceptable level of a classroom feeling in the virtual world is not a smooth task. The lockdown has dug up a lot of deep-buried issues in our education system, starting with accessibility. The disparity between students from different economic backgrounds in having access to the internet is one among the many challenges that obstruct a smooth functioning of virtual classrooms. Even though this has been addressed and taken care of to an extent, there still exists lacunae.
Even as we celebrate the 72nd republic day with all pomp and pride, the real issues still remain unaddressed. Education being one of the major variables that result in ensuring a sustainable future, it needs to be given more attention and support in terms of not just monetary backing but also with regard to visionary policies. Online platforms which were once associated with just leisure communication indeed became the biggest saviours in the wake of the closure of educational institutions but this has come with its own set of challenges. Students, teachers and all stakeholders of this giant enterprise are forced to overcome these challenges that have come with this sudden and often hastily executed e-learning programmes. Zoom and Google meet has now become the new normal in this Covid-19 pandemic-stricken world.
Lack of stable internet connection is one of the major obstacles to e-learning programmes. In a developing country like India, internet accessibility has not yet become a commonly enjoyed resource. When the creamy layer or the economically affluent section of the society gets to enjoy the perks of having a technological upper hand, there is a digital divide created between the haves and the vast majority of the economically backward communities in the present education scenario.
Assessment is an integral component of the education system. The importance associated with students taking a test or being made to appear for an examination on school premises is to ensure whether a student is in the right track of learning. The accuracy of assessments is highly questionable when done through these online platforms. It is not just the integrity of the student or the ethical principles that are expected to be followed as and when an examination is conducted that is questioned here, but the whole process in itself because not all the students in the same classroom enjoy the privilege of a calm and favourable homely atmosphere suitable enough to attend an exam. As for the tutor, it has become an uphill task with so many uploads and downloads to be done each and every time he or she wants to check the progress of a student. Therefore, a tool that shall provide a comprehensive assessment system wherein the requirements of both the teachers as well as the students are considerably met.
The bigger question of data privacy and cybersecurity also cannot be overlooked. The teachers who conduct online classes through free platforms sometimes take the risk of a potential privacy breach. There has not been enough time for the teachers to be made experts in using these modern social platforms in the hands of educational institutions which also stands as a threatening stumbling block in the present e-learning system.
Reliability, verifiability and practicality build the foundation of every educational venture. The present Indian educational situation needs more carefully constructed plans in order to meet these standards. Education is a constitutionally guaranteed right to every single individual without a difference in caste, creed, sex, religion or region; therefore, the execution of this right needs further attention. Let this pandemic era not cripple or deny the citizens of tomorrow the knowledge that is rightfully theirs. “We shall overcome”.