Government schools are a necessity as it is the sole educational lifeline for 60% of India’s child population. Does every child have the opportunity to opt for private schools if Government-run schools are imparting substandard quality education? Unfortunately, the answer would be a big ‘NO’.
The importance of education in national development needs more understanding. The difficulties that teachers face to cope up with the drastically changing curriculum, the emergence of digital education, student-teacher ratio are all threats and stumbling blocks in shaping the nation. The question here is, how aware are we about this alarming crisis?
Considering a few aspects and implementing corrective measures to those will not suffice until we address the core issues. There are no shortcuts but to revamp the entire approach towards schools run by the Government.
The Questionable Quality of Education
India’s school education system is the largest on the global map. However, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2020 draws our attention to the fact that the students’ language and numeracy skills at the early ages are way behind the set curriculum expectations. It also lays importance on the baseline of education; the correlation of children’s cognitive skills and their performance in the early years in language and numeracy tasks.
At primary levels, there aren’t any specific standard examination patterns in most of the Government-run schools. The children are promoted directly to higher classes. This concern needs serious attention. It is important for the student, the teacher and the parent to understand the learning capabilities and the progress made during the course of the academic year.
While India is moving towards universal education at a progressive pace, the country’s educational quality is dubious, primarily in the schools run by the Government.
Schools need to focus on building a solid base in the initial years of primary education. Children should have a strong foundation for reading and arithmetic. This progression has to be the mandate while curriculum expectations and classroom activities are developed.
The Academic Standards
An uninvited class-division has come into existence in the field of education - the privileged and the economically-challenged. Children who belong to the deprived economic and social backgrounds of rural India suffer the most being part of a system that does not provide even-handed quality of education. We have to bear this moral burden until we decide to do something about it.
The quality of education and the facilities provided are below the bare minimum norms. This would result in serious social consequences. Government schools are often neglected, have deplorable teaching standards (let’s not blame the teachers), and poor performance records.
The World Bank report of 2017 estimated that by the year 2021, there will be 372 million children falling in the age bracket of 0 to 14 years. The quality of education given to them will be the factor that would determine what they will accomplish in their lives and what will be their contributions towards society.
The Enormous Struggles of the Educators
We are not to blame the teaching fraternity collectively. There has been remarkable progress in the process of them taking ownership and owning up their responsibilities towards society. Teachers are raising the bar of commitment by their relentless effort in providing the best possible within their limitations. Irrespective of the subjects, they now are familiar with the learning capabilities of every student in their classrooms.
Their bitterness lies in not able to have extended opportunities in mastering subject knowledge and the dearth of resources in classrooms. A well-equipped teacher education program is an exigency that can reshape and change the educational landscape.
The Scarcity of Adequate Infrastructure
The Government school’s need for the hour is adequate access to proper teaching aids and a pleasant and positive classroom environment. There is a devastating slit between our aspirations and the relentless jarring reality.
One of India’s most pressing issues in education lies within the four walls of the classrooms. It is one of the primary requisites to make the learning process seamless. Intellectual infrastructures inclusive of qualified and well-trained teachers, a school library, digital platforms, and the basic physical infrastructures like safe buildings, proper seating arrangements, playgrounds, and toilets facilitating hygiene are a must for every Government school in India.
The absence of these utilities or the improper functioning of infrastructure has adverse effects on educational outcomes. Various researches conclude on one factor that the school infrastructure plays a vital role in the educational development of a child. The wall colors, the seating conditions, the lighting in the classrooms are all factors that are equally important and play a vital role in the holistic development of the child.
There has been a remarkable decrease in teacher and student absenteeism, the children have started to learn better; then where lies the stumbling block? The penetration of digital education has changed the whole perspective of education strategies. The concern here is, how do we equip our students in the Government Schools to cope with the digital transformation?
There has to be a more focused approach to education in Government schools. The Indian Government’s contribution towards education is a mere 3% of the country’s total GDP. At this stage, a joint conscious effort to mitigate the prevailing drawbacks in India’s Government-run schools is indispensable.
How Right To Live is Making a Difference
Right To Live is mission to eliminate educational inequality. We envision a citizen-led system so that the sole responsibility of educating the children of underprivileged is not just in the hands of the Government. We consider this as a collaborative effort and provide digital infrastructure for the classroom, teachers with ample teaching aids so they can easily demonstrate e-learning programs, detailed teacher’s training programs, physical infrastructure, and improve the quality of classroom education.
Quality education for all will remain a distant dream if we do not provide the classrooms with adequate resources and the latest infrastructure. Let us positively lookout for the next National Education Policy, policy reformed to transform the education system in India.
Are the idealistic online classes reaching the students of government schools?
Digital classrooms and online teaching have emerged as the new reality today amidst the Corona-virus pandemic and the social distancing order. Technology dictates the term for online teaching as both public and private schools in India switch to digital platforms. This measure has brought a dramatic change in India's education system as online classes become the new norm.
E-learning and online classes call for remote learning on digital platforms—these range from virtual tutoring apps and video conferencing tools to online learning software. According to research, online learning is quick and accelerates information retention in children as it is more engaging and interactive.
Are online classes an effective medium of education?
The government has issued guidelines to schools to conduct online classes to ensure that learning outcomes are not compromised because of lockdown. Even in ordinary life conditions, online classes have become a new trend as they facilitate interactive learning.
Online classes bring relief to students as they can continue their studies without attending a physical school. A regular supply of electricity, an uninterrupted internet connection, the right digital gadgets, and a well-framed digital curriculum are the chief requisites for the proper conduct of online classes.
The charm of online classes is evident for students in towns and cities where appropriate resources are available. Students with households that have a good internet connection and the right kind of devices, like laptops and smartphones, have been able to join in for the classes. Students from small towns and rural areas struggle with a lack of resources, like internet speed and availability of gadgets. Sadly, most students of such regions are unable to attend online classes and stay deprived of the educational benefits.
The challenges that hinder the process of online learning are real and need attention. Let us first consider the challenges that face online learning on a nationwide platform.
Challenges faced in online learning
The stark digital divide steps out as the prime concern in conducting online classes in schools all over the country. Thus, there is a considerable divide in children from affluent urban families and low-income rural and semi-urban families as far as digital resources are concerned.
Internet is the backbone of running smooth online classes. In areas where there is a lack of reliable internet access or technology, students struggle to participate in digital learning. This gap can be seen across rural areas and small towns and between households with low-income groups. It is estimated that only 14.9 % of rural households have the internet as compared to 42% of urban households. Students from the economically weaker sections who attend government and low-budget private schools mainly face this problem.
Digital education heavily relies on an uninterrupted supply of electricity for powering gadgets as well as for internet connectivity. Although the government’s Saubhagya scheme records claim that more than 99% of homes India have an electric connection, the reality is entirely away from the facts. https://saubhagya.gov.in/
According to a national survey of Indian villages conducted in 2017-18 by the Ministry of Rural Development under Mission Antyodaya, only 47% of Indian villages receive more than 12 hours of electricity a day. Online classes remain a distant dream for the students in the remaining towns and lesser privileged areas.
The major challenge of online learning lies in the gap in access to electricity and internet connections to digital devices like computers or smartphones. This disparity is applicable across class, gender, region, and place of residence of students all over India. According to the National Sample Survey Education Report (2017-18), http://mospi.nic.in/sites/default/files/publication_reports/KI_Education_75th_Final.pdf
Although the Central and state governments have taken initiatives to improve the availability of resources, the digital infrastructure for remote learning has not improved due to an evident lack of funds. Online education requires necessary supportive measures to reduce social disparity and educational inequalities among learners.
Towards this effect, Right to Live has been working on a mission to improve the quality of e-learning in government schools. Right to Live has collaborated with BYJU’s, a Bangalore-based Ed-tech and online tutoring firm. The partnership has resulted in the introduction of an e-learning facility at Government schools. With BYJU’s free live classes on its Think and Learn app, there has been a significant increase in the response of lesser privileged students to attend online classes. As of today, this e-learning program is active in 40 schools, with almost 8500+ students attending it every day spread in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu; and it focuses on Government schools in rural areas where children cannot enjoy such facilities.
We, at Right to Live, are committed to providing quality education through our e-learning programs. We need your support in our mission of delivering e-learning in government schools so that we can reach out to the maximum number of underprivileged children in Government schools from rural parts of the country.
Right to Live, a Kote Foundation initiative, is India's first crowd donation platform dedicated to charitable giving with a vision of - Joining hands to change lives.
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