Beaten or broken?

How a global pandemic created a havoc in the educational field. Find out to learn more.

Beaten or broken?

The education system in India is facing anew crisis thanks to COVID-19.

According to a World Bank report titled Beaten or Broken? COVID-19 pandemic in India may cause a loss of over $400billion in the country’s future earnings, besides substantial learning losses by keeping 391 million students out of school in primary and secondary education. Most schools are shut and children have been out of school for approximately 5 months. Being out of school for that long means that children not only stop learning new things, they also forget some of what they have learned. It’s a double whammy. E-learning has been the new normal for schools these days wherein teachers and schools are adopting new ways to interact with the students and provide the education. Well the biggest issue is the digital divide in the nation.

According to an UNESCO report and we quote, the pandemic will adversely impact over 290 million students across 22countries due to the closure of schools in the wake of the lockdown. Extended school closures will not only weaken the fundamentals of students, but it will also lead to loss of human capital as well as economic opportunities in the long run.

Well the biggest issue is the digital divide in the nation. According to a TRAI report, only 34% of total population of India had access to Internet. E-learning, as the name suggests, relies on the availability and accessibility of technology, but little or no availability of electricity is a significant challenge to taking advantage of education online. In a recent 2017-18 survey, the Ministry of Rural Development found that only 47% of Indian households receive more than 12 hours of electricity and more than 36% of schools in India operate without electricity. This suggests that while students from families with better means of living can easily bridge the transition to remote learning, students from underprivileged backgrounds are likely to succumb to inefficiency and a lack of adaptation, either because of the inaccessibility of the technology or the low education of their parents to guide them through tech-savvy applications.

Also E-learning, as the name suggests, relies on the availability and accessibility of technology, but little or no availability of electricity is a significant challenge to taking advantage of education online. In a 2017-18 survey, the Ministry of Rural Development found that only 47% of Indian households receive more than 12 hours of electricity and more than 36% of schools in India operate without electricity. This suggests that while students from families with better means of living can easily bridge the transition to remote learning, students from underprivileged backgrounds are likely to succumb to inefficiency and a lack of adaptation, either because of the inaccessibility of the technology or the low education of their parents to guide them through tech-savvy applications or due to lack of electricity.

The Learning Adjusted Year of Schooling’ (LAYS) concept, introduced by the World Bank, seeks to combine access and learning outcomes into a single measure. "The projected learning loss for the region is 0.5 years of learning-adjusted years of schooling (LAYS), falling from 6.5 LAYS to 6.0 LAYS, an enormous setback from recent advances in schooling".

Economic reform policies have always leaned towards hyper-digitalization. For a long time, we have discussed how to innovate working and studying with at-home technologies. However, the implementation of these policies have not addressed the educational inequalities that have today emerged as a crisis in the caste and class struggle in India. Can we bridge the gap of education inequality?

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