- The pandemic has greatly affected the education sector, especially the lag in learning owing to the closure of schools over the last 18 months is stating the obvious. Most welcomingly, school across the country is allowed to open and resume formal classroom pedagogy from a temporary measure like online teaching. As reported across various media platforms, there is some cheerful news of government schools too finding favor again. The `6th Annual Status of Education report shows government schools retaking ground lost to affordable private schools over the past several years.
PC: Fast Pay Ltd
- This definitely makes a case for increasing budgetary allocations as well as public spending on education. However, the story is not as simple as it looks whilst pursuing the statistics. The pandemic ravaged the entire country and the subsequent lockdowns squeezed out the very existence of several economic sectors, including education. The budget private schools were particularly hard hit. It is no wonder when teachers cited financial distress and shutting private schools as reasons for the sudden government school preference seen around. Thus, the latter still faces a stiff challenge when education normalizes in due course of time.
- Further, it is simply not feasible or can be expected from government schools to deliver all by themselves. Make no mistake, India needs big investments in private schools at all levels, and the state government must recognize this fact. Even though some government schools have succeeded in elevating the quality to the next level, there is little to cheer for the overall health of the education sector itself if an exceedingly big network of private schools catering to all income classes are not allowed to flourish. The resulting outcome in such a scenario will be the patchy delivery of education. Also, note that ASER uncovers some grave learning problems.
PC: Di Elisa Farinacci
- As you are aware, the shift to online learning was predicated on students having access to smartphones and teachers delivering requisite learning materials as well as activities. The number of students who failed to receive this critical access, in full or adequate measure, portends a generational deficit, one with huge socio-economic consequences. Note that only 27% of students had access to smartphones for their studies at all times and 47% sometimes. In standards 103, the corresponding figures were just 19.9% and 40.8%. While 90% of students received textbooks, at-home learning activities were not communicated to 40% of students in schools in virtual mode.
- The survey reveals two-thirds of teachers complained that students were lagging behind the curriculum and 50% of them devoted their time to filling last year’s gaps. Obviously, this prevailing situation requires systemic correctives. Against this backdrop, the lack of urgency in commencing child anti-Covid vaccination preventing school closure from potential virus waves is baffling. The need of the hour is to prevent learning deficits from compounding. It may appear school children are at least risk from the Covid but they end up bearing its brunt the longest if the education continues to get affected from unintended repercussions.