The COVID-19 Pandemic has caused the largest disruption in education in the entire history. With almost 6.31 million COVID-19 cases, India is on the course of crossing the USA and leading the table with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.
With schools switching to online classes, the entire learning system has undergone drastic changes. Teachers and students are adapting to the new way of learning through online learning tools. The implementation of online learning tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet has enhanced the learning process during this pandemic.
In the face of this deadly pandemic, the technology has emerged as a lifesaver and kept us connected. The main advantages of these E-Learning methods are that they provide a more flexible and easily accessible framework for education. It has not only improved the way of learning but also facilitated the students and teachers by saving a lot of time and money. The learning in schools have now found a new purpose, the schools have now shifted from the traditional practices of education to the present-day practices.
Nevertheless, there is no substitute for teachers, technology cannot replace them. Despite the hype over online classes, the reality is, in a developing country like India, majority of children do not have access to devices or the internet connectivity required for the new e-learning processes. According to UNESCO, approximately 0.32 billion students in India have been affected by school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Of these, almost 84% reside in rural areas while 70% attend government schools.
The major factors leading to a higher dropout rate in education are poverty and unavailability of required resources. Even when the government is increasingly relying on technology and e-learning for the education of children, the digital divide is a major concern. Not all students and teachers have access to adequate equipment, skills, internet connection, and conditions to take advantage of the newly available platforms.
As the dropout is increasing at an alarming rate, it is leading towards many more unfair practices like child marriages, domestic violence, early pregnancies, and a plethora of other development issues. The enhanced ways of education have majorly impacted the children with disabilities as resources for blind and deaf students might not be available outside the schools, while the children with disabilities like autism may struggle with the independent work on the computers or disruption of the school routines.
The Corona Virus is here to stay and therefore, there is a great need to create new opportunities for all students who are facing difficulties due to the altered ways of imparting education. Also due to the uncertainty of this situation, increasing accessibility of e-learning for the masses is very important and therefore, new innovative practices and Training methods have to be developed along with the existing e-learning practices to meet the demand and short-falls. Modernizing the education through television, encouraging the classes on wheels concept in rural areas, modification in the curriculum, reduction of the syllabus, adding online libraries and workshops for students and parents to adjust with the new normal condition are highly recommendable.
On the other hand, immediate need of ICT skills enhancement for teachers is being noticed. In India, where a large population lives in rural areas, the use of technology has been very less or almost nil and suddenly due to this pandemic situation, the need of Training and Development has drastically increased. The ICT skill development programs should immediately be introduced by the government with the help of Social Sector or rather government should invite private sector to join this mission so that teachers can be trained simultaneously to meet the new demand of teaching. These quick initiatives can serve as a solution to the problems that are being faced by a majority of Indian students and teachers.
Despite all the inconvenience and disruption, this pandemic has provided an opportunity to all the Nations and their Governments to assess their ability to handle such situations and has made us realize that PREPAREDNESS IS CRUCIAL but POSSIBLE.
Nitya Kumar Singh is a content contributor on HRhelpboard which is an online HR knowledge portal. She likes writing related to education, human resource, fashion, and general issues.