‘Online Classes Against Right to Education, Makes Schooling Expensive, Out of Reach’ : Rashtra News
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Article 21A of the Constitution of India guarantees us the right to free and compulsory education. This right is being denied since education is neither free nor compulsory in the current model of schooling. On the contrary, it is expensive and unaffordable for many, and hence inherently optional.
India has had one of the longest school closures in the world. Students have greatly suffered and been deprived of a social environment, learning, daily meals, wellness, mental and physical health, among many other attributes of physical schooling, for more than 82 weeks at a stretch!
It has been reiterated by leading international and Indian medical institutions and acclaimed doctors that vaccination should not be a prerequisite for the reopening of schools. Students are beginning to think and the common perception is that the government simply does not want to interfere in this matter because of the risk it supposedly poses. They are, however, willing to take the very same, if not greater, risk by reopening other public places such as malls, restaurants, hotels and so on.
Ironically, children are allowed to go to malls, cinemas and other public places but are banned from schools, that too, which are hybrid and by consent of parents and guardians.
Under the new reopening guidelines, the decision for reopening of schools has been left entirely to the States. One would assume this is because every state has a different COVID-19 ground situation. However, should there not be a common framework and prescribed guidelines that are uniform for all states to reopen schools, specifying factors such as what the positivity rate should be to reopen schools, what percentage of students would be allowed to attend school and when, and whether it would be hybrid.offline etc? There is an imperative need for set guidelines to be formulated by the Central Government so that states are not able to avert their responsibility towards their students.
Attending online classes involves heavy expenditure on part of students’ families. From purchasing computers, laptops, mobiles to procuring a steady internet connection or data package. According to the World Bank, the per capita income of India is $1927.year. That roughly equals Rs 1,43,384 per year and Rs 11,916 per month. Incurring the aforementioned expenditure would take away at least a month’s revenue for an average working Indian parent. This is the reason why a study by the Azim Premji Foundation in November 2021 showed that almost 60 per cent of school children in India cannot access online learning opportunities.
In another national sample survey by ICRIER and LIRNEAsia, a think tank on digital policy, only 20 per cent of school-age children in India had access to remote education during the pandemic, of whom only half participated in live online lessons.
Even those who were fortunate and privileged to attend online classes, felt shy and uneasy in asking questions and speaking up in classes, particularly with teachers and peers they were unfamiliar with. This hampered growth and learning in a significant way. They were not able to meet friends and take part in school activities that inevitably build interpersonal skills as well. The psychological effect has been tremendous leading to mental health issues such as depression and social reclusiveness among students.
Since students were not able to attend classes and understand concepts, this led to a lack of preparation for examinations, online as well as offline. The Central Board of Secondary Education conducted class 10 and 12 board examinations recently. Apart from the fact that a new scheme was introduced during the pandemic which significantly increased the burden on students, in the long run, the manner in which these exams were conducted was at the very least questionable.
It was evident that the Board was underprepared and incompetent to conduct these exams. There were irregularities in the question papers, officially released marking schemes and crucial rules were changed in the midst of exams as well. How can the Board or Government expect students to give exams offline considering that they have not reopened schools for offline classes? Not everyone has access to online education, and the ones who do at best get an education, merely in the nature of a stopgap and ad hoc arrangement. These are vital issues that must be carefully deliberated and considered before holding the upcoming CBSE Class X and XII Term 2 examinations.
We must remember that schools should be the last to close and the first to reopen, in the backdrop of the pandemic.
— The writer is a class 12 student from New Delhi.
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( News Source :Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Rashtra News staff and is published from a www.news18.com feed.)
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