Context:- Covid-19 posed a threat which resulted in lockdown of society and economy. School closure led to a great loss in nutritional intake and schooling for the poorest sections of our society. This thing seems a distance apart when schools will resume?. There is a fundamental question in front of us i.e if our schools were to reopen tomorrow, are we prepared for their resumption? Will it be merely business as it was before the COVID-19?
Some facts about digital divide:-
- 95% of the children in the age group of 613 years are attending educational institutions (formal and informal).
- UNESCO estimates based on the 2011 Census record 38.1 million children as “out of school”
- There is a differential access to digital technology.
- According to (GSMA) estimates over 390 million women in low and middle income countries do not have Internet access.
- Only 14.9% of women were reported to be using the Internet in india.
- According to current data with the government nearly 17% more men than women have been vaccinated.
- For an example:- when families share a digital device then it will be more likely that the father or sons will be allowed to use it exclusively.
- Patriarchal mindset thinks that women’s access to technology will motivate them to challenge patriarchal societies.
- In our society there is also a belief that women need to be protected.
- Most technologies that are currently available to the common man are created by men, for men, and do not necessarily meet everyone’s requirements.
There is a disruption in education:-
- Indi has promoted online classes and connectivity as the solution because physical contact between teachers and children has not been possible.
Issues in digital Education:-
- There is a lack of connectivity as well as a lack of access to e-devices or digital devices due to this only a fraction of children has had online education of any kind.
- The quality of online education is largely abysmal.
- The percentage of teachers in the country who are capable of handling digital platforms and digital content for pedagogic purposes is very small.
- The educational material which was used in a physical classroom has been reproduced in online education as well.
- The teaching learning processes have been very poor which hurt the most disadvantaged section.
- Many studies in the last year have documented a loss of learning in children.
- In the Netherlands along with equitable school funding and excellent broadband access because of short lockdown, researchers found that among eight to 11 year olds, “students made little or no progress while learning from home”
- In Netherlands “learning loss was most pronounced among students from disadvantaged homes”
- A multi-state study in the USA depicts that the pandemic “has also prompted some students to leave the public school system altogether”.
- According to a study by the Azim Premji Foundation on children in the age group six to 11 years, 92% of children on average have lost at least one specific language ability from the previous year across all classes and 82% when it comes to mathematical ability.
What is the solution being employed to current lethargic situation of education:-
- Age appropriate enrolment, as guaranteed under the Right to Education Act, is being uniformly implemented. But this has not been ensured across India, with many States not taking up enrolment for this year as yet.
- To repeat the entire academic year in one way of addressing the learning crisis.
- Philippines allowed the extended time for classes on resumption both in duration of school hours and more calendar days of interaction.
- The other approach can be to reduce and synthesize the curriculum so that students are able to focus on a few subjects and learn them well’
- One to one tutoring or one to one teaching for the most disadvantaged learners has been taken up in many countries.
- National Tutoring Programme can be a way forward as it is in the United Kingdom for which the government has announced funding to the tune of £350 million.
- Ghana has also announced a national programme of tutoring to help it’s students
- There are many such programmes in different States in the U.S at the same way In Italy the university students are volunteering to conduct one one one classes for middle school children.
- An accelerated education programme or “bridge courses” which condense several months into a few weeks or months, are another option.
- The advice is to go with exposure to age level grade level content, and plug the holes where necessary.
Some scientist argues:-
- There is nothing like learning loss” rather students have to learned a great deal about life, home economy, health as we have seen during the pandemic that cannot be measured by standardised tests.
- “The curriculum should not be seen as a fixed list of content that must all be covered before the learner can leave school. If the curriculum can be seen as a map, as a landscape, there is always plenty of time to explore.”
- We are racing through the syllabus to “catch up” but the Children who cannot keep up would simply be left behind. This great disaster has to be eliminated.
- The Teachers who are without preparation, handling such a new context, can only fall back on covering the syllabus, leading to the alienation of already marginalised students.
- We have to have a vast body of volunteers which will engage with small groups of children from the most disadvantaged sections, working in tandem with schools, which will need to focus on safety measures and average performance
- It is very critical that we should not reduce education to foundational literacy and numeracy; rather we should treat the children as they are, study the experiences they bring, and address their nutritional, emotional and intellectual well being as a whole.