- Learning portals of education has suffered unmitigated challenges ever since the pandemic was declared is there for all to see. It would be a gross understatement in mentioning that the underprivileged children from the lower echelons of the society are the hardest hit simply because such parents lack the means and wherewithal to ensure their wards are provisioned with tools/aids to facilitate learning processes, including online variety. Unlike their urban and semi-urban counterparts, students from deprived backgrounds are bound to be disadvantaged more.
Pc: Vikalp Sangam
- To continue the process of learning in the absence of regular classes owing to restrictions, the Karnataka government devised an education programme named Vidyagama in August wherein the teachers were tasked to undertake the classes to nearby schools, community halls, open fields, and even temples by observing standard safety protocols. The measure was well received and appreciated by all concerned stakeholders, especially underprivileged students in rural areas, that ensured continuity of the learning process alternatively supplementing the online efforts.
- Reports of diligent teachers traveling considerable distances to impart teachings to rural students did wonders for the intended purpose though many of them did contract the dreaded virus during the period. Few succumbed to the disease as well. However, reports of many children contracting the virus last week in a village of Kalaburgi District opened a can of worms raising serious questions about the programme. Reports highlighting the lack of social distancing, missing masks, and general compromises on health & safety fronts has resulted in precipitating the matter.
- As is it won’t, the regional television channels were up in arms by continuously beaming purported blatant violation of norms questioning the necessity of running the programme amidst spiraling infection rates. A sustained campaign by the electronic media has eventually forced the government to temporarily scrap Vidyagama till October end. Going further, the government has also declared Dasara holidays for all schools except CBSE, ICSE, and International Curriculum. Undeniably, the disadvantaged rural government school students will be undeservedly affected.
Pc: Alicia Fox Photography
- There are also unconfirmed reports emerging pointing fingers at private school’s lobby for mounting pressure on the authorities to scrap the move. On their part, the private school’s management representative has alleged that the government school authorities are luring the students by claiming only they can conduct classes. Reportedly, more than 1.7 lakh students have quit private schools to join the government-run schools. Whatever the arguments and counterarguments, poor students are affected depriving them of only means of learning.
- Moot point to ponder over here is whether such a hurried move scrapping the programme would serve any purpose. In the absence of a viable alternative, Vidyagama was filling the gap admirably extending the much-needed support to keep the process of learning uninterrupted to all those deprived children. Don’t be surprised if cases of child-labour and marriages will witness an upward swing, more so in the rural landscape, as the struggling parents hard-pressed to make ends meet will force the children to embrace any means of earnings instead of learnings. Sad news indeed!