With more than 65 percent population consisting of youth, India has huge responsibility as a nation to secure its citizens education. Education is the tool to bridge the gap between helplessness and awareness.
Ever since ancient times, Indian culture has been the pioneer of education through gurukul system. Dating back to at least 2500 years. Global universities like Nalanda, Taxila and teachers like Dronacharya, Kautilya have flourished on Indian soil.
But times have changed since then and classroom education has been the melting pot of ideas. Students from varied backgrounds coming together to sit, eat, and learn together. The constitution of India guarantees the right to education under Article 21A.
The advent of internet has reduced the world to a global village or ‘glocal’ level. It has transgressed the boundaries of polity. Electronic learning has gradually been rising to the surface. There are schools offering smart classes to students. But these are mostly a luxury limited to private schools in urban, affluent areas.
The availability of affordable internet data packs due to rising competition among telcos have eased the access to internet among masses. The unprecedented havoc caused by the sars-cov-2 virus and its mutants have caused once in a century kind of troubles for global health and economy. Education of less than half a billion students globally has been risked.
Out of that 320 million learners are in India. Smartphones, laptops have come to the rescue as schools have opted to teach online amid lockdowns and curbs. 75 percent students are accessing online classes through smartphones which is not free from distractions of other apps. The ratio of accessibility and availability is skewed towards urban elite.
Only 15 percent rural households have internet connection as compared to 42 percent in urban households. Out of which only 4.4 percent rural households and 23.4 percent urban houses have laptops/computers. This harsh reality has sidelined more than 150 million students and put their career and quality of life at stake.
This inequality is furthermore, harsher for females. A mere 29 percent of all internet users are females. This stark difference arises due to patriarchal notions that restrict women to childcare, adult care, cooking, chores of the house. Mostly, a mobile phone is first owned by the men in house and then passed down to females.
Yes, we do see tier 2 and tier 3 cities’ children and people rising to the surface and contributing to consumption and production of content online, but that is an incomplete picture of truth. Another setback is due to medium of teaching. Only 17 percent school are English medium schools rest are in vernacular mediums.
There are schemes that cater to needs of students like e- pathshala, swayam courses, pradhan mantra e vidya, national academic depository among others. ThinkZone, a startup in odisha has partnered with local radio channels to broadcast content for children aged 3-10 years.
With such initiatives by schools, local authorities, government students have the choice to have flexible timings to study. Online learning solves problem of teacher scarcity, helps remoteness of teacher and students not be an issue. E learning is environment friendly and contributes to lesser CO2 emissions.
Pros and cons exist for knowledge givers too. Teachers are apprehensive about students being distracted due to online classes. There is lack of interaction which increases social isolation. This has risked students’ communication skills due to lack of human interaction in their lives. Teachers as individuals have been overwhelmed by responsibilities of home chores and childcare, especially women. Nonchalant attitude of stereotypical attitudes evades the learning environment too.
E learning is a barrier and an enabler both. To realise the equity in access of data, we as a country have to help bridge the divide of elite and poor, English medium and vernacular medium. We have to cross the mental and attitudinal boundaries of them vs us. Only then can we grow as a society. A strain of virus has broken families and hopes of millions of us. But it can also be an opportunity to mend ways of living and not just merely surviving.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
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