• Kakoli Nath

ARE INDIANS REALLY PREPARED FOR VIRTUAL LEARNING: A STUDENTS' PERSPECTIVE

INTRODUCTION

"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."

-Malcolm X


The ongoing pandemic has reopened the topic of online versus offline dissemination of education. So, when we compare this teaching methodology with several parameters, we can surely say that online methodology was lacking compared to offline or face-to-face teaching methodology. As we see, this pandemic affects every individual in many aspects, either its health-wise or employment and also the education point of view. Through this article, researchers tried to show the impact of a pandemic on the educational system of the country.


Nowadays, many educational Institutions are going virtual. However, the main issue is that we are really in that situation to implement online classes with large sections of society in our country! So, this hypothesis is backed by many valid reasons and the national data provided by the National Sample Survey of different years and in these pandemic situations. Being a developing nation, we lack in many aspects when it comes to Online teaching methodology. As we know that around 66% of the Indian population still lives in rural areas of India. Millions of students in government schools and colleges and especially in rural areas of India are unable to get this online education due to lack of connectivity issues, accessibility issues, and other such issues.[1]


CRITICAL APPRAISAL: - ONLINE LEARNING vs. OFFLINE LEARNING


Many of the households, especially in the rural areas or the families who depend on daily wage earners, cannot afford these laptops and smartphones and even internet connectivity, which are a basic requirement for this new phase of dissemination of education. Not only internet connectivity but also the power supply plays a vital role in these online classes. These two disparities cause hindrance in this method of learning.


Moreover, due to the poor Internet connectivity, the speed is very low, which also create disturbance in receiving proper video and audio, which creates much doubt because of inaudible problem.


Mission Antyodaya, a nationwide survey of villages conducted by the Ministry of Rural Development in 2017-'18, showed that 16% of India's households received one to eight hours of electricity daily, 33% received 9-12 hours, and only 47% received more than 12 hours a day. According to the National Sample Survey report of 2017-2018, only 24% of Indian households have an internet facility. While 66% of India's population lives in villages, only a little over 15% of rural households have access to internet services. For urban households, the proportion is 42%.[2]


Now when it comes to online classes, the children or students have always hooked to screens of either laptop or smartphones for around 7-8 hours a day, which makes him addicted to screens that impact their mental and physical fitness. Many doctors and researchers claim that looking at these screens for long hours can prove to be harmful to the health of the children.

Suppose I talk about the families who are low wage earners and not afford many devices like smartphones for their children because of the low income even for their personal use. Moreover, in these pandemic situations, as work from home is very much in demand, they have to use it for their work. So managing these all problems and having many devices is impossible for a large section of the population.

When it comes to the Kashmir issue, we all know that high speed is not available. Still, in this pandemic situation, 2G internet is only allowed in this state. 4G internet access is still not available. So when it comes to online classes in this state, it is very challenging for the students to cope with this situation because it is quite impossible for them to connect with this 2G internet while downloading and live streaming the class with this internet speed. By that inference, we can clearly say that most of the students have to face either the scarcity of the device in the family or the internet connectivity this also hampering the basic right of "Right To Education" to every child below 14 years of age which is enshrined in India Constitution under Article 21A which states that "free and compulsory education for children between the age group of 6-14 years".[3] They lack in many aspects of knowledge with the rest of the students in India itself.


One of Kashmir teachers said that "Restoring 4G internet is the minimum the government can do in this situation, to ensure students do not lose precious time," he says. "If you do not want to restore 4G service, at least increase the speed of the internet." [4]

Some other aspects of online classes that affect the teachers and parents in many ways are also problematic. Many teachers who are not familiar with smartphones and modern devices lack this modern way of teaching style and are somehow also very disturbed about how to cope with these challenges. Bulling by students also gathers more attention in this recent time when students start bulling the teacher while online classes are going on. The biggest challenge is with the female teacher when they are bullying by older children during video calls.


One also very important point mostly gets ignored. In this, in rural areas "Mid-Day Meal" scheme was started by the government for the students to better their nutrition standing during lunchtime in government schools. This program not provides a meal to the children but also attracts many children in the school to attend the class, and after that, they get the food. This is also one of the government's initiatives in the school to enable the lower strata of the families to send their children to the government school, which also increase the literacy level of the country and poor children also get the education. However, all this initiative is not fulfilled when we compare this online teaching methodology with the offline classes, especially in India's rural areas.


SUBMITTED BY-

Vikram Kumar

Kirit P Mehta School of Law, NMIMS UNIVERSITY

[1] "Provita Kundu, Indian education cannot go online – only 8% of homes with young members have a computer with the net link, SCROLL.IN,

June 19, 2020, available at https://scroll.in/article/960939/indian-education-cant-go-online-only-8-of-homes-with-school-children-have-computer-with-net-link."

[2] Supra Note 1

[3] "The Constitution of India, 1950, Article 21A

[4] Mudasir Ahmad, Students, Teachers in Kashmir Struggle With 2G Connectivity as Classes Move Online, THE WIRE, April 22, 2020. Available at: https://thewire.in/education/kashmir-2g-online-classes."

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