‘The deceased ideologies and desultory policies of center and the state ruling parties should not always sound dissenting with the intellectuals of diverse capacity-building institutions. It can fracture both the mature & young spirited mind creating adverse effects on trained representatives’ motivation and adherence to producing progressive learning value-system.’
According to the World Inequality Report 2018, Indian democracy has emerged as the second most unequal region in the world. The uneven distribution of resources does not explicitly reveal the 10% privileged class holding 50% of the national income but construe regional, financial, and cultural disparities between villages and districts making institutional arrangements. In the contemporary on-going pandemic state of affairs, the poorest and ill-resourced section of the society inclines toward pro-platonic strands of democracy than having a contra-platonic entity. Plato’s Republic on evaluating the nature of justice in any political establishments and Tocqueville’s incapacities of democratic-tyrant has triggered irresistible upheaval in equal ‘Accessibility’ giving atomic preference to ‘Quality.’
A report issued by a global humanitarian organization called Action Against Hunger anticipates food insecurity as a considerable crunch between June-August more than any other essential requirement, unlike education. Amidst pandemic, the poignant regret of massive fee hikes in schools and colleges known for excellence in areas of medicine, technology, arts, and social science; students and parents are strangled by the sense of treason, humility, and resistance. Several private and government colleges are claiming to provide favorable quality & infrastructure that has led enrolled students to protest around the country. Despite several notices and governmental guidelines, private schools and institutions, overpriced tutorials kept discouraging the urban middle-class, leaving the rural-disciple doused and vulnerable counted nowhere in the picture. This constituted a sense of ‘collective community responsibility’ launching an online petition Abhiyan to Prime Minister against tuition fee hike for the academic year 2020-21 in states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Hyderabad, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Uttarakhand, etc. Ashok Aggarwal, a lawyer, and activist emphasized empathetic treatment towards parents losing their jobs or suffering the worst economic crisis of which private schools and colleges can manage to pay their staffs and conduct online classes for the pupil, through consolidated emergency funds or admission donations, and appeal full fee waiver without any delay or psychological discomfort.
It is significant to recall a comprehensive plan discussed in the World Conference on ‘Education for All’ in Jomtien, Thailand, 1990: Recalling Education as the fundamental right for all people, of all ages around the world. Article 3 under World Declaration on Education for All assert Universalizing access and promoting equity was not only in primary education to children, youth, and adults but should broaden the effective measures to eradicate educational disparities.’ All must be provided the opportunity to achieve and maintain an acceptable level of learning. Marginalized groups: the poor, street and working children; rural and remote populations; nomads and migrant workers; etc. should not suffer from any discrimination in access to learning opportunities.
Moreover, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) devotes two articles, Article 13 and Article 14, encompassing a wide range of comprehensive discourse on the right to equitable education underlying within international human rights law. Article 13 (2) (c) of ICESCR called as ‘the right to higher education’ incorporates fundamental components of Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability, and Adaptability, which are common to education in all its forms at all level.
Today, the constructive civic education in developing nations should genuinely eye on stimulating a sense of assurance towards the above mentioned four ‘A’ in all teaching and learning platforms to endorse scientific temperament and community engagement during this prolonged COVID-19.
Adverse Effects of Ultra-privatization: A scope to revitalize public services for basic social protection.
The ultra-privatization wave of governmental goods and services has systematically annihilated the marginalized group of people in India. From clean water availability, sanitation, transport, health, and education are hardly arranged timely, adequately equitable, or in a dignified manner to the poorest. Philip Alston, a rapporteur from the UN General Assembly, highlighted the fundamental human rights guaranteed by major world constitutions is the domicile government responsibility and could not be overthrown by privatizing reasonable social protection, essential health, and educational services. The 10-year review of the World Bank and reports from the National Audit Office in UK gave a similar conclusion that the hyper-privatization model and projects are too expensive and less people-friendly to provide them low-cost health and education accessibility.
The changing trends of the ruling party and untutored political leadership at the center today have affected each pellet of ministerial operations. The progressive tendency of privatization ultimately focuses on hyper-profit maximization through health services, ICU bed charges, and medicines, consistent with premium treatments affordable by the privileged class and less useful to the marginalized in many metropolitan cities. The governmental agencies and regulatory bodies should intervene to determine a standardized availability of services to all. Thankfully, the Novel Coronavirus does not explicitly discriminate in terms of ‘haves’ and ‘have not.’ But Amnesty International justly observed how disproportionately the virus had impacted the migrant workers, hospital cleaning staff, Dalits, or Adivasi. Pandemic made people vigilant about the spurious information spread by dreadful media targeting minorities, social activists, and defenders of social democracy.
Pandemic signifies the relevance of Social Democracy advocated by B.R Ambedkar to be the base for Political Democracy, underlying the right to liberty, equality, and fraternity as a crucial component in human life. But the private emissaries’ charging unnecessary transport fee, laboratory fees, and miscellaneous heads in school, colleges, and other essential services which have otherwise been treated as regular for years despising social-democratic direction. The Right to Education Act restricts mandatory buying of school material like uniforms, text-books, and other excessive items from specified suppliers, thereby considering it an ‘unwilling splurge’ and a punishable offense in many states. One positive impact due to pandemic is the awakened participatory egalitarianism expounding to revitalize public service delivery in every sphere of operations. A modern state of unfamiliar ‘fragmented parental unionism’ has produced a latent cognitive revelation not only in students but mostly among parents about the uneven distribution and disguisement about the institutions’ quality endowment
What, Why, and How to cease Education Pandemic in India.
Inspired by a recent article ‘Education Pandemic,’ written by Stephen Cox, who is the chief officer of New Nordic School in Finland, stressed how the carefully crafted education system is still erroneous during a pandemic around the world. Some major problems faced by students, teachers, and parents being dependent on virtual education are anxiety and depression having unnatural academic closure, lack of digital facilities and efficient teacher training support, and parental problems handling uncertain home-schooling, stated by the HundrEd global research community report 2020. The metaphor ‘education pandemic’ aptly fits in the current irregular state of education initiatives in several ill-technocratic districts and remote villages for the poorest, homeless, and disabled children in India. The digital divide of ‘having internet and laptops’ with those ‘barely having internet connectivity or smartphones’ have disrupted the effort taken by educators to reduce the increasing academic disparities. Of course, with the outbreak of the virus, the paradigm shift is to be attentive towards scientific researches and health services.
Similarly, policy-makers and capacity-builders are finding preventive measures to cease unequal and inadequate learning in the country. The matter of examination and good grades, which has seemingly been the fundamental element for a successful career-building, has taken a back seat as ‘standardized approachability to education’ becomes the ultimate priority for teachers, students, guardians, and government. The psychological disengagement against the government will eventually involve a sense of critical resentment post-pandemic until the current policies talk about equity in all regards.
Pandemic demands no risk of life, but Educational Risk for Innovation is to transform human life.
The teacher-to-student virtual relationship should be based on trust-building and flexibility. The most challenging task of covering the syllabus and academic content by teachers should complement flexible assignment deadlines for students. All educational institutions are not meant for compulsory academic hurl but about developing multi-prolonged confidence, compassion, and collaborative behavior. The emotional human beings seeing their family members sick and suffering due to the unprecedented crisis require basic availabilities of meals for survival instead of virtual learning materials for career-building.
The teacher-to-parents communication and coordination between schools and universities shall design a strategy not to evaluate the grades only, but this time their level of satisfaction, happiness, and decision-making capacity to fix their prospective employability opportunities.
A teacher-to-teacher approach, pronounced by Kristina Rizga’s ‘On Teaching’ American project, asserts urgent colleagues collaboration to prepare a list for providing emergency aid to economically weaker families. Schools, colleges, and universities can adopt to prioritize and make a list of Below Poverty Line (BPL), Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) students, and advance a blueprint to reach-out for community safety and stability to vulnerable learners.
The effective e-learning platforms like EDTech require commitment and reforms, fully accessed by more than fifteen lakh schools and fifty thousand higher education institutions, obligating faster flexibility and reconsider diversity in technological learning and assessment methodology. The practical utilization of ‘work-from-home’ notion or progressive physical distancing requires an active list of e-platforms for young learners in India:
Byju’s, Henry Harvin, Oliveboard, Udemy, Coursera, Unacademy, IGNOU, GuruQ, Vedantu, Toppr. Also, online platforms for professionals are LinkedIn Learning, Upgrad, Treehouse, UXReactor, edX, etc. Massive traffic and online registration on these companies are recorded due to breakthrough constructive decision of virtual education around the world.
To stop the ‘learning-paenia,’ termed by Stephen Cox, is a deficiency of learning where lack of physical disconnection, conventional learning discipline, or less personalization leads to boredom or loss of legitimate purpose of education. A key to the digitalized pedagogical process, virtual teacher training, less but effective curriculum adaptation certainly not the saffron party strategic-scrapping of democracy, secularism, nationalism, gender diversity, and foreign relations with neighboring countries from the syllabus. A comprehensive evaluation should be done to realize the full agreement and utilization of virtual education techniques without slaying the institution’s autonomy of functions. The existing system has to take significant steps in teaching the unified concept of mandatory equity for the rapidly increasing numbers of ethnic, racial, linguistic minorities and refugees, displaced by war youths and adults in India.
Nevertheless, the failed political leadership and red-tape oriented system are crippling the long-term potency of equity-based policy drafts. The institutions necessitate inclusive learning solutions, diverse certification options, online-offline examination choices, and must guarantee a student-friendly system for curbing pandemic challenges. Effective traditional and modern knowledge integration, a concoction of agriculture, medicine, technology, architecture, yoga, etc. along with scientific temperament, can work to eradicate societal evils serving the greater purpose of humanity. The respective center & state government naive attitude demonstrates negating the immediate, simple, and logical steps to resolve such an exclusionary motif, which would become a bitter pill to digest by the current & potential generation in the post-pandemic juncture.
The views and opinions expressed in this opinion article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Eastern Herald.