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IMPACT OF nCOVID’19 ON INDIAN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
An article contributed by Kumar Parimal (MBA(FM),FOC, BHU) .
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The study will try to achieve the following aims:
- To study what are the impacts of nCorona virus on educational system of India
- To see readiness of our universities to adopt edtech
- To see probable revolution post pandemic era
In the present study, secondary data available from various sources have been analyzed. I am heavily relied upon several articles & newspaper reports.
RATIONALE OF THE STUDY
The study of this project topic will give the scholars an opportunity to know about major challenges & post pandemic reforms in our education system.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study will be based on nCOVID’19 impact on INDIAN education system. Things that contributed to this limitation is time, which did not allow for more exhaustive research.
The Rich Cultural Past:
The history of the education culture in India is equally enthralling. In ancient times, India followed the Gurukula system of education in which anyone who wished to study went to a teacher’s (Guru) house and requested to be taught. If accepted as a student by the guru, he/she would then stay at the guru’s place and help with all activities at home. The guru was responsible for teaching everything the child wanted to learn, from Sanskrit to the Holy Scriptures and from mathematics to metaphysics. The entire journey of learning was closely linked to nature and to life, and not confined to memorizing some information.
Education is a lifelong process by which people learn new ways of action and thought. It encourages changes in behaviour which aim at improving the human conditions. Education plays a vital role in introducing the culture of the society among the students. It is a process by which the society through schools, colleges, universities and other institutions deliberately transmits its cultural heritage. Culture is the content of education and has a bearing on the school administration. The elders in the community, who play an extremely important role in culturing education. They often have stories and skills that the younger generation is unaware of.
The changes over the Years
The British can be credited for bringing a revolution in the Indian education system. The colonial period, from 1757 to 1947, saw the rising of various government universities at Bombay (Mumbai), Calcutta (Kolkata) and Madras (Chennai). Apart from the Indian Universities and Governmental colleges, several Non-Government and Private schools were also established by Western Christian missions, to provide opportunities for elementary education. Women education became prevalent with the advent of the British. The curriculum in private girls’ schools ranged from the Urdu, Persian, writing, arithmetic, needlework, and Islamic studies of Punjabi. Moreover, the English language became the medium of instruction because it was believed that the English language would make Indians capable of receiving knowledge across international borders.
The modern school system was introduced in India, including the English language, originally by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay in the 1830s. The syllabus was confined to “modern” subjects such as science and mathematics, and subjects like metaphysics and philosophy were considered unnecessary. Teaching got confined to classrooms, and the link with nature was broken, as also the close relationship between the teacher and the student.
The Current Scenario
In our contemporary culture, people have realized that education translates into opportunity and hope for the future. They have understood the fact that the ability to get an education, to foster creativity and curiosity, to seek answers will allow mankind to continue to grow. One cannot deny the fact that modern education has led to social awakening and awareness amongst people all over India. Thanks to the recent revolutionary developments, now any kind of information is easily accessible, that too at the doorstep of each and every individual. It has made the present generation much more informed about the developments happening anywhere in the whole world and knowledgeable than previous generations.
Education in modern India includes primary education, secondary education, senior secondary education and higher education. Elementary education has eight years of education, while secondary and senior secondary education consists of two years of education respectively. Higher education in India starts after passing the higher secondary education, and post-graduation courses are generally of two to three years of duration. Numerous colleges and institutes have emerged all over the country to provide better educational opportunities to the students. Development of the education sector in India is one of the factors driving the nation towards progress.
The expenditure on Education as a percentage of GDP rose from 0.7 per cent in 1951-52 to about 3.6 per cent in 1997-98. In January 2019, India had over 900 universities and 40,000 colleges. In India's higher education system, a significant number of seats are reserved under affirmative action policies for the historically disadvantaged Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. In universities, colleges, and similar institutions affiliated to the federal government, there is a maximum 50% of reservations applicable to these disadvantaged groups, at the state level it can vary.
Schools and colleges across the country have been closed since the second week of March in the wake of Covid-19. The higher education sector is undergoing a tectonic shift right now. What several futurists and education technologists have been forecasting for long, is now happening. In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, millions of students across the globe have been driven out of their university spaces, and professors are confined to their homes. Higher education stands disaggregated, and faculty and students are grappling with the sudden new norm of completely tech-mediated teaching and learning.
No doubt, this is a crucial time for the education sector—board examinations, nursery school admissions, entrance tests of various universities and competitive examinations, among others, are all held during this period. As the days pass by with no immediate solution to stop the outbreak of Covid-19, school and university closures will not only have a short-term impact on the continuity of learning for more than 285 million young learners in India but also engender far-reaching economic and societal consequences.
The conventional Indian education system follows face-to-face or physical teaching, the structure of schooling and learning, including teaching and assessment methodologies, was the first to be affected by these closures. Even though the trend of audio-visual aids in classrooms was introduced a decade ago. Only a handful of private schools could adopt online teaching methods. Their low-income private and government school counterparts, on the other hand, have completely shut down for not having access to e-learning solutions.
Renowned universities in India such as the University of Delhi are offering online classes to its students already. But many higher education institutes in India are not equipped with such facilities. In the event of such a gap, some students might face the brunt brutally, which might affect their entire academic year. The transition to online teaching is itself very expensive, as campuses license new software and provide computing equipment to ensure that all students can learn online.
The current crisis not only created new challenges, it brought underlying problem to light. These include the enrollment and revenue challenge that many colleges addressed through the admissions of full-pay international and out-of-state students. It offers genuine opportunities for higher education to emerge stronger, while retaining the attributes that inspire other societies to envy and emulate our approach.
While many universities and colleges are conducting online learning sessions, students from disadvantaged families or living in remote areas may not have access to Telegram, iCloud or, indeed, the internet even in the best of times. A large number of university graduate students come from government run institutions where there is hardly any edtech infrastructure arrangement to teach online except a few renowned colleges. Let’s have a look over the data;
Lack of access to technology or fast, reliable internet access can prevent students in rural areas and from disadvantaged families. Lack of access to technology or good internet connectivity is an obstacle to continued learning, especially for students from disadvantaged families. In response to school closures caused by COVID-19, UNESCO recommends the use of distance learning programs and open educational applications and platforms that schools and teachers can use to reach learners remotely and limit the disruption of education. Further, teachers and students need to be made aware and provided some sort of training to familiarise themselves with digital workflows.
Even private institutes students also face challenges. Samira Nadkarni, who teaches at St Andrew's College in Mumbai that gets a relatively more affluent crowd, said that online education still doesn’t trickle down enough, no matter how fancy the institute. Some of her students do not have laptops at home. “It's not just connectivity that's an issue but many of them need assistance and won’t be able to use technology on their own,” she said. IITs also face such like issues where about 20-25% students haven’t owing the laptops to continue their course during this harsh condition.
And, it’s not just students who face problems. There are teachers as well who need guidance and assistance. Ela Goyal, who has a PhD in the use of technology in education, is an alumnus of St Stephens College and former professor in a management school, is running independent workshops to train the teachers. “Many of them are not aware of how to conduct online classes; most of them are from socially and economically underprivileged backgrounds and are not aware of such tools,” she said.
At our university, there were dozens of faculty members in each webinar on online teaching that we attended. Those who had experience with online teaching and tools were proactive in helping colleagues adapt their courses. While some are no doubt concerned about being able to achieve their intended learning outcomes, they are also excited about the technical barriers they have overcome and all that they have learned. And they want to learn more. Having taught a few online classes and discovered that they can make creative use of the technology, many faculty will be changed forever. We expect that even those who go back to teaching in a traditional classroom will incorporate some of the online tools that they are now learning to use.
Suffer: Whether 2020 Academic Year or Fresh Graduates Employment
The pandemic has significantly disrupted the higher education sector as well, which is a critical determinant of a country’s economic future. With board exams, university exams, college exams, the entrance test being postponed, it will be a big challenge for colleges to complete their syllabus on time without compromising on the education quality. From delay in board exams to college being shutdown to delay in national level entrance tests, it is the academic year of the students that will suffer. As already discussed, JEE Main, UGC NET etc. which are the ticket to engineering & research education in India have already been postponed due to the Coronavirus outbreak & will lead to the delay in the start of academic sessions for most of the engineering colleges and most of the other colleges will witness a delay as well. Not just that it is estimated that students aspiring to take admission in 2020 are now clueless as to how and where they should apply to colleges from here on.
The bigger concern, however, on everybody’s mind is the effect of the disease on the employment rate. Recent graduates in India are fearing withdrawal of job offers from corporates because of the current situation. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s estimates on unemployment shot up from 8.4% in mid-March to 23% in early April and the urban unemployment rate to 30.9%.
Are Indian Colleges/ Education System Equipped to Handle the Change?
In a survey by Times Higher Education in 2018, the leaders of well-known global universities were of the opinion that online teaching could never match with physical room teaching. When we talk about how equipped Indian Higher Education System to handle the change, we need to keep in mind that the digital shift in India is relatively new. Not only in India, but in Asia as well. Indian Colleges will take time to handle the change and be open to the new methods as the approach of the education system here is a lecture-based approach to teaching. Digital teaching is more evident in schools and the school students/ teachers/parents are more comfortable with this approach when compared to higher education set-up in India. In the event of COVID-19, online teaching has become a necessity, for not only colleges in India but worldwide to look for innovative solutions in a short period of time and to always have a Plan-B in place.
Needless to say, the pandemic has transformed the centuries-old, chalk–talk teaching model to one driven by technology. This disruption in the delivery of education is pushing policymakers to figure out how to drive engagement at scale while ensuring inclusive e-learning solutions and tackling the digital divide.
Once we get beyond the current crisis, universities should shift the focus from basic training on tools to more advanced training incorporating course design and assessment of learning. Faculty enthusiasm may well be less than we are seeing now, but if we can get the messaging to resonate with faculty, they may just start participating in droves. That messaging should celebrate their current achievements with online tools while also recognising their pain points, and offer the training as an opportunity to build on that success and solve their technology-related teaching challenges.
Given that the traditional focus has been on offline centers of education, we believe a mix of online and offline is what will work in the coming months, which can hopefully be converted to a permanent module. COVID-19 will impact higher education in India but what it has taught us is to build resilience to face such threats in the future. The outbreak of Coronavirus has reminded us that change is inevitable.
Finally, we should preserve the culture of change that has swept across universities over the course of just a few weeks. We should institutionalise that culture to respond to the demands of the digital era. Because if not now, then when?
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