The second wave of Covid-19 has hit the country hard. The situation is deteriorating every passing day and while the health infrastructure is struggling to keep up, there is one more sector that has been facing the wrath of Covid-19 -- the education sector.
Ever since the pandemic hit us, students have been confined within the walls of their homes to attend online classes. However, the efficiency of this substitute arrangement has been in question. To discuss the same, CitySpidey talked to Prof. Chandra Bhushan Sharma of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNO) and Aparajita Gautam, president of Delhi Parents' Association.
Talking about the matter of online classes and distance learning, Prof Sharma is of the view that distance learning has always been a part of the Indian education system.
"In areas where there is no accessibility of facilities like good educational infrastructure, distance learning is a commendable solution. Information and communication technology must be used for the purpose of educating anyone anywhere in this country," Prof Sharma said.
He also said that there are very few institutes in India that facilitate distance or open learning. He also said that distance learning has been undermined for years. He added that the pandemic has come with an opportunity to bring distance learning into action again and believes in the efficiency of online classes. However, according to him, teachers are not trained well enough to tackle such issues. A parallel system of distance education must have been there.
When asked about the evaluation system and other challenges of online learning, Sharma said that there must be a scientific way of evaluation. He said that giving teachers the authority to fully evaluate students will not be effective.
He said, “Assessment is not a child’s play. It is an entire genre of education.”
When asked about any practical ground-level solutions to improve the evaluation system, Sharma said that on-demand exams can be held. "The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has this system. The staff and the students must be vaccinated and centres should be sanitised so that the students can come there whenever they feel like," he said.
"Also, a national standard must be set for the assessment. All the boards across the country must come under one ambit to follow a standard when it comes to assessment," he added.
The professor is against the view of promoting students without exams and that educationists must be involved in the process of forming any sort of educational guidelines.
CitySpidey asked Gautam her views on the promotion of class X students without board exams and what preparations must be done to avoid such situations further. She said that an internal evaluation of class X students must be done. She also pointed out malpractices like bribing while the evaluation of class XII practicals.
Gautam also questioned the guidelines set by the authorities on the internal evaluations of class X students. She further emphasised the quality of teachers as it is very important to impart quality education to students.
Adding to the same, Sharma said that kids belonging to the age group of 3-18 years should be sent to school. He also said that single gender or non-co-ed schools were a mistake.
Sharma talked about the importance of schooling for kids and how that helps in the mental and societal growth of children. He said that schools are not just to provide knowledge but is a place where children learn to live together.
Adding to the conversation, Sharma said that schools provide a safe space for children as they meet people of their own age and there might be times when kids will tell a certain thing to their friends and not their parents.
According to him, the environment of schooling is required and must be given even during these times. Some sort of solution must be thought of to make things better for students.
Gautam pointed out the irresponsibility of schools and said that as soon as offline classes began, schools terminated the online classes forcing children to go to schools without any choice.
Talking about the imposition of fees and uniform in online classes, Gautam said that schools have been violating the orders and there is no action being taken against them. She was of the view that in online classes, it is very important to charge only the tuition fee. She appealed to schools to go easy on parents when it comes to fees.