Online education in india

In Malappuram district of Kerala, father of a Class X student could not manage to get the TV repaired. Or buy a smartphone for online classes for his daughter. The girl died by suicide because of her inability to attend her online classes. A father of class X student in a village in Tripura’s Sepahijala district ended his life. Because he failed to buy a smartphone for his daughter’s online classes. In Mansa district of Punjab, a class Xl student hung herself. Because her father, a farm labourer, could not afford to buy a smartphone for her online classes.

Due to bad Covid-19 impact

These are not isolated incidents of suicide but closely interlinked with transformation of Education system amidst the Corona pandemic where “Online Classes” have been proposed as the viable alternative. In the past few months ever since the outbreak of COVID-19. Almost every aspect of human life has been severely affected. We are exposed to the worst health crisis in decades, which has caused catastrophic changes in socio-economic development of nations.

Internet usage Covid-19

It’s no rocket science to figure out that smartphones, laptops, and high-speed internet are still a luxury due to economic and social inequalities.
The novel coronavirus-2019 cases in India is close to seven lakh cases with around 20,000 deaths. And the numbers are getting worse with each passing day. In other countries where situation has still not normalised, universities have adopted “Online Classes” as the mode of imparting knowledge. However, Western countries and India are not on the same plane; any comparision or imitation is therefore unjust.

Schools, colleges and universities were shut down with immediate effect to contain the spread of the virus. And also the alternative to face-to-face offline classes came as online classes. Are online classes an inclusive alternative, is a question we all need to ponder upon. The experience of past few months suggest otherwise.

According to Survey by AISA

According to a survey by student body AISA (All India Students’ Association), 72.2% students of DU could not access online classes, because of poor connectivity. 1500 students surveyed by AISA, almost 75% of students of Delhi University said. “They will not be able to sit for online examinations”. Also In an another survey conducted by two professors of Jawaharlal Nehru University among teachers of JNU. It has come out that more than 40% of students have not been able to attend online classes.
They were also overwhelmingly of the opinion that such an online education deepens social and economic inequities between students. And that is unlikely to be beneficial to the student’s future progress in the field. Improve their oral communication, or foster their exploration of novel research ideas,” the report said.

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The survey was done among 131 teachers from nine schools of JNU who were involved in imparting online education. These two surveys broadly reflects the realities of online classes in two of the top-ranked universities in the country. Now, if this is the situation in central universities in the National Capital, one can imagine how other institutions must be functioning! The ongoing controversy in University of Delhi regarding online exams. Where students are complaining lack of high-speed internet. Is only a reflection of the same bigger problem association with Online Mode of Education. That is its “exclusionary” nature.

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Bottle necks to a good online education

The unwarranted obsession with online classes and imposing the same on students won’t do good to anyone. Including the student community.
To treat students as a homogeneous community is a mistake. And this is the basic premise on which “online classes” function. Online education in india like country, where we have horizontal as well as vertical stratifications in the society. Online Education puts privileged group at an advantage position. Including, women students, students with disabilities, and students lacking high-speed internet are under worst hit.

Public-funded universities in particular offer level playing field, atleast claim to, without making any distinction based on socio-economic status of the students. Students from marginalised and oppressed section of the society can access quality and affordable education in these universities; many first generation learners could come here and study. Online classes don’t do justice to this very idea of a public university. The decision of Delhi University Administration to conduct Online Open Book Exams. Has invited from the final-year undergraduate and postgraduate students, who are crying foul over the exclusive and discriminatory nature of online exams.

In another central university in the National Capital, the Jamia Millia Islamia Administration has issued a Notice stating that University would reopen on August 1, 2020, and academic activities including teaching shall continue in the “Online mode”.

post-pandemic world of education

While we all have been concerned with the post-pandemic world and how much different it would be from the earlier or current one, the fact remains our future depends on the choices we make today. The unwarranted obsession with online classes and imposing the same on students won’t do good to anyone, including the student community. The uneven distribution of resources among the masses and social capital an individual enjoys will determine the ability to access education. This is already happening with rapid privatisation and commercialization of Education.

Online classes in Public Universities

Moving to online classes would lead to status-quoist education in these public universities too. The “Online Classes” has turned out to be a failure at this front. It’s high time we review and find out merits and limitations of online classes, instead of blind acceptance of the same. This was all about online education in India, Thank you