The COVID-19 has significantly disrupted the higher INDIAN education sector, which is a vital determinant of a country’s economic future
In December of 2019, a virus struck in the rapidly growing Chinese city of Wuhan. Little did anyone know that this virus would take the form of a global pandemic that would claim more than 4,75,000 lives and affect millions more. As the world reels from the shock of coronavirus,Uncertainty is prevailing, but even in these times of crisis, one cannot deny the determination by which it is dealing with the global crisis.
This virus Proven to be the most dangerous virus to have struck the planet Earth, COVID-19 has bitterly affected all sectors of the world, be it business, medicine, hospitals, showbiz, justice, freedom, international relations, politics, or education.
The global impact of Coronavirus is immense as educational institutes all over the world from Oxford to the IIT’s are closed. Covid-19 has thrown education all over the world in a loop. The Coronavirus pandemic affecting the world has led to nationwide school closures in 102 countries and localized school closures in 22 countries, impacting at the time of publication over 960 million children and youth.
In India, more than 32 crore students have been affected by the various restrictions and the nationwide lockdown, which was imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 25 March.
This has affected academic activities at various levels, including the postponement of board exams, college exams, and even entrance exams such as the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) for medical, JEE MAIN which is the ticket to engineering education in India has 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.
“Student lives, not just their academic programs, have been disrupted.”
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. Education disruption impacts our readiness for the future and also has huge economic and lifestyle costs.
Will the 20-21 Academic Year Suffer?
Delay in board exams due to college being shut down leads to delay national level entrance tests, it is the academic year of the students that will suffer. As already discussed, JEE Main and NEET which are the ticket to engineering and medical education in India has already been postponed due to the Coronavirus, outbreak & will lead to the delay in the start of academic sessions for most of the colleges.
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had demanded the promotion of students in colleges and universities. Though the government is not in favor of promoting students without an exam. But some state governments seem to like the idea of promoting college and university students without an exam and is thinking of going ahead with it.
The NSUI said that those students who are studying in the final year should be promoted based on past academic performance plus 10 percent extra marks, as most of the students, improve in academics in the final year. And first and second-year students should be promoted without exams, while third-year students should be promoted based on their past performance.
Formerly, a committee designated by the University Grants Commission (UGC) has recommended that the academic session in universities and higher educational institutions can be started from September instead of July given the COVID-19 situation in the country. Academic institutes gradually initiated online meetings and classes to cope-up with the circumstance.
Transfer of knowledge through online classes
Waking up to the morning alarm, getting ready, slipping on an ironed uniform, eating breakfast, and then hurriedly rushing to catch the school bus – all these have hit the pause button ever since the Great Lockdown.
The COVID-19 pandemic has incited a global realization that our current way of life does not work. It has broken our understanding of what is normal and deconstructed civilization as we know it.
According to UNESCO, over 1.2 billion students are affected by nationwide and localized school closures, representing around 73% of the total of enrolled students worldwide. Nearly 60.2 million school teachers and university lecturers are no longer in the classroom.
Human beings, in general, thrive on social interaction, which was missing in non-traditional e-learning platforms. You can never really replace a teacher because the teacher provides human interaction, but platforms like Byjus, Unacademy, Vedantu, etc enable a teacher to be able to reach out to their classroom remotely and continue to interact. Some advantages of e-learning are a more comfortable learning environment, convenience, and flexibility.
Online courses allow students to plan study time around the rest of their day, instead of the other way around. Students can study and work at their convenience. Course material is always accessible online, making special library trips unnecessary. All of these benefits help students balance work and family commitments with their education.
On another hand, some disadvantages of online education are lack of disciple, less creativity, and information overload. “Behind every achievement so far, discipline plays the biggest role in behind”, in higher education or online classes, there is no fear of failure or teachers. Students are free. Freedom is good but too much freedom especially for students without the guidelines is not good for society and also for them. The future of online teaching should not be reactive to the situation. Instead, it is a potential model for a resource crunched country like India and a personal tool for self -development.
Is the INDIAN education System Equipped to Handle the Change?
While school closures are a necessary measure to halt the spread of COVD-19, it must be remembered that education is a human right, and authorities should employ all necessary measures to ensure its continuity in times of crisis. Planning and reforming education systems to anticipate the risk of disruptions to education is therefore essential.
As the world continues to experience its greatest disruption to education since the Second World War, lessons must be drawn from this phenomenal challenge. As the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural rights underlined education is an empowerment right, a tool for all individuals to fully participate in and contribute to society. Let us not forget that the students of today will be the leaders of tomorrow and that these leaders will in turn need to respond to perhaps even greater crises than the one facing humanity today.
“If it takes a village to raise a child, we must empower the village to teach the child.”
In a country like India where access to the internet is pitifully low, this new education model may fail miserably hence, the Internet comes out to be the biggest challenge of e-education. In the last two decades, there has been a conscious effort on the part of the government to improve access to the internet in every sector. But still, India has to face the internet challenge. Most schools in the INDIAN education sector are familiar with physical teaching rather than online teaching. so the change in education style might be tough to adjust.
According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India report, on the national level, fewer women (33 percent) have access to the internet compared to men (67 percent), with rural areas experiencing more disparities (28-72) compared to urban areas (38-62). Some of the poorest students do not have access to smartphones, and even if they do, content is often not available in Bilingual. This gives rise to discrimination in access to education. Mobile phones are the most popular medium for accessing the internet in both urban and rural areas.
However, there is a lack of digital infrastructure for both the teachers and students and a disparity in internet connection and access to devices; while all students might have smartphones, not all of them own desktops or laptops which are more suited for educational purposes. According to the current report, the Indian e-learning market size was USD247 million, contain 1.6 million learners in 2016. It is expected to have an 8X growth to reach USD1.96 billion and the recent user base will increase at 44 percent CAGR to 9.6 million learners by 2021.
Initiatives are taken by Government
Immediate measures are essential to ensure continuity of learning in schools and colleges. Open-source digital learning solutions and Learning Management Software should be adopted so teachers can conduct teaching online. The UGC has also constituted a special committee consisting of vice-chancellors of various states and central universities, headed by Nageswar Rao, VC of Indira Gandhi National OpenUniversity (IGNOU) to understand the challenges of online learning amid COVID-19. The universities are utilizing the digital resources in difficult times including the ChoiceBased Credit System (CBCS), SWAYAM, and other platforms by the MHRD.
Here is a list of some digital initiatives launched by the Ministry of HRD for school students and even those seeking UG and PG level education.
➢ SHAGUN Online Junction
➢ NROER (National Repository of Open Educational Resources)
Other than promoting online content on applications, India’s Ministry of Human Resource development has said it is working on the dissemination of lessons through radio and television. State education departments are creating their models based on local needs.
Impact on jobseekers
The lockdown enforced to prevent the spread has brought economies to the ground and endangered the job prospects of many. With unemployment rising during these tough times,
Recent graduates waiting in the arms and looking for their first job feel isolated. In the present scenario, one should not expect aggressive recruitment drives like previous years; and delays in graduation and the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions have led to job offers being withdrawn and job interviews getting delayed or canceled.
According to industry experts, the hiring policies may change post lockdown, an experienced individual would probably ask for three to four times more salary than fresher, this thought process can be changed and the company can hire three to four freshers whose salary would be equivalent to that of one experienced person, the work that is to be done can be divided amongst three people
Impact on Abroad Studies
Students who are set to go abroad for pursuing their post-graduate courses might face tough times ahead. The economic impact of COVID-19 is already visible in most economics across the world, especially in the US, Italy, UK, Spain, Australia, and Canada. These are also favored destinations for higher education.
standardized tests like GMAT, GRE, SATs, ACT remain suspended and the future of students hangs in balance, overseas education consultancy experts in India estimate a 40 percent drop in demand for education in foreign universities next year. Getting visa applications processed, availability of job opportunities after graduation, and travel restrictions are some of the worries.
The Last Word
The education sector has been hit by the pandemic, making it difficult for students, teachers, and institutes to come to terms with the changes. While online education has many benefits to offer,
It is still an unexplored and unfamiliar territory for many people. The hope is that this education sector would continue its work despite all the challenges as there’s no compromise on the students’ futures.
Check out more articles: “How the COVID-19 pandemic stunned and brought struggle to the world.”