The pandemic struck a blow at the very core of the global education system, as it walks on a tightrope between offline and online classes. We busied ourselves proclaiming the internet as our make-believe panacea, refusing to observe how selective this cure is. E-learning has proved to be an abbreviated pathway too narrow to accommodate most students, especially in developing countries like India. With the pre-pandemic educational policies already a hit-and-miss, the seemingly successful transference came with pitfalls of insufficient bandwidth, tools and training with little change in fee structure, adding to the woes of students.
With our one-way ticket to a greater digital divide, lack of level-wise delivery and cyber-bullying in teaching trails along. Poor rural population and millions of workers constantly on the move for sustenance cannot be expected to offer the necessary technological access to their children. Urban-based middle-class families struggle to distribute the limited internet facilities and devices among their children. The justification for the rigmarole is indiscernible. While online tutoring firms like BYJU’s enjoy the sudden influx, the government fails to provide students their constitutional rights.
In such conditions, better access to education replaces imparting quality education. There should be considerable concessions for data plans, distribution of e-learning devices, safe cyber centres in schools to accommodate students and teachers facing logistical challenges. Reforms must be made before the next best alternative, premised on informed decision-making, becomes an easy surrender to expediency costing many capable students their future.

Haritima Kavia

August 3, 2020