( October 08, 2020 )
We can argue that technology driven education has opened the doors for few but has closed the doors for many
With the onset of Corona virus disease, world has seen the largest disruption of education in more than 190 countries and affecting approximately 1.6 billion learners. Closure of educational institutions and other learning spaces had its impact on 94 percent of student population and up to 99 percent students of low income countries. In India alone 320 million children from pre nursery to higher education got affected. Almost 24 million additional children may drop out or may not get access to schools next year due to economic impact of covid 19 across the globe. Before the covid pandemic our education system was fighting hard to overcome already existing disparities but covid crises has exacerbating effect to these already existing disparities by reducing the opportunities and access to education for most of the vulnerable children living in poor, rural areas, girls, refugees and persons with disabilities (UN report Aug 2020).
As the covid induced lockdown was abrupt, educational institutions were left with little space to prepare for these impending disruptions. While responding to these crises situations our educational institutions have become more responsive and proactive with the limited resources available at their disposal. A shift from face to face physically embedded classroom to online education was made and certain platforms like zoom classes, Google meet, Google classroom start functioning which earlier most teachers and students were not familiar with though radio and television were already in place. So we saw wide spread popularization of online teaching and learning during these testing times but with some question marks like what about those children who are already affected by lack of resources or enabling environment to access learning. Recently in June 2020 a child rights NGO ‘Smile foundation’ carried out a study “Scenario amidst covid 19 on ground situations and possible solutions” and it was found that 56% of children were found to have no access to smart phones which have emerged as essential tools for online teaching and learning during pandemic times. In another study it was found that only 8% homes with young members have computer with internet connection. So in this way we can argue that technology driven education has opened the doors for few but has closed the doors for many.
We are aware of the fact that education is the dynamic force in the life of every individual influencing physical, emotional, mental, social and ethical aspects of development. Online education does have a positive role to play but it is not the panacea. I strongly believe we must use these online platforms of teaching and learning with utmost care and wisdom as the purpose of education is not merely dissemination of information which through online tools is being bombarded into the minds of students. Education is transformation of life. We need creative minds and their response in order to transform the society. Our students should know that they are the creators of culture.
Education is sensitivity, sensitivity to self, sensitivity to life and world. Online teaching and learning cannot have this sensitivity. This human touch is possible only in face to face physically embedded classroom. Education is communion between the teachers and students, the communion of thought, communion of feelings and more importantly communion of experiences. In physical classroom situation a teacher activates all faculties of a student viz. emotional, physical, intellectual, social, moral, ethical and spiritual which is not possible by way of online teaching and learning.
Using technology without human element of teacher and student is making objects of most of us. If we keep on using technology like this we will not develop with human characteristics but will be programmed like robots. Learning is social in nature but unprecedented use of online education can lead us to social isolation. Glorifying online education will have its serious implications on the socialization process of our young ones. Ambit of teachers in online teaching has been only that of service providers and those of students as consumers. Amidst all this creativity is casualty. Justifying and legitimizing online education because of technology is not a right vision or frame of mind to have. Neoliberalism has taken the control of education and markets are deciding what is good and palatable for our students. It has engulfed all our value system, critical thinking, logical enquiry and humanistic traditions.
To make our nation strong we need a vibrant and strong educational system. To realize this aim our schools, colleges and universities are the pathways for better life to generations to follow. Technology should not be allowed to replace the cohesive, sensitive and cordial relationship between a teacher and his student. This intimate contact between the teacher and his disciple is like a corner stone in resurrecting the building of education.