2020 has been a year of many unanticipated occurrences. But everybody will agree that it rendered various substantial turning points in every domain in the world. All status quos had to undergo disruptions and transformations. The education sector is also undergoing its greatest shifts ever amidst Covid-19.
Education has evolved over the years to become an important process that provides us knowledge about the world, environment and society and hones our skills and potential to utilize them for better causes and thereby undertake significant roles in contemporary society. There was a long era in which the ways of acquiring knowledge were difficult even for the privileged. It sprang up nourished by the developments in technology and became a wide system that gives access to any willing person for improving their cognition through gaining all kinds of information in both theoretical and practical format.
As we all know, we have been going through a challenge of enormous proportions since the beginning of 2020. The pandemic wreaked havoc around the world forcing us to practice lockdown for a period and it interrupted all facets of our daily lives. All the enrolled students in schools, colleges and universities across the globe were unable to go to their institutions for almost a year. This jeopardised their social and cognitive development and also affected their mental health, and that caused the emergence of online education as a viable alternative.
When India went into lockdown at the end of March 2020, our school education system was wrapping up the 2019-20 academic year. As Covid 19 upsurged, it became impossible to resume in-school classes and in order to extenuate the spread of the virus, the school system shifted into online mode. Private schools and CBSE were quick to adapt to this new system with their digital capacities. State board education was spurred to comply with this system and it was not feasible without the necessary ammunition by the government and most importantly required technological facilities and with the majority of the children not being able to access them.
Many states adopted online education using various educational tv channels, PM e-VIDYA which includes various platforms such as DIKSHA, SWAYAM, e-Pathshala and NROER (National Repository of Open Educational Resources) and teaching through Zoom, Google Classroom etc., while the other struggle with the raising dropout rate among students of school and higher education. In that case, the epochal measures taken by government of Kerala and digitalization efforts taken by Maharashtra government to facilitate ICT enabled education are standouts in comparison with the other governments. A great deal of enterprises under KITE (Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education) project as well as the avid initiatives to bring together our school education by digitalization deserve more applause. Maharashtra’s digital school drive, its implementation and operational elements within the schools and MITRA app (Maharashtra In-Service Teacher Recourse app) also noteworthy.
However, the necessity of utilizing ICT in education has been established by now and innovations are to come forth through many ventures. The Department of Economic Affairs and World Bank along with the Ministry of Education have signed an agreement for the financial support for implementing Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project as a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme under the Department of School Education and Literacy.This programme envisions to improve overall measurement and monitoring activities in the Indian school education system through interventions in six states namely Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Odisha. STARS project is expected to be essential in the implementation of various recommendations of National Education Policy 2020 such as ICT-enabled approaches in education, strengthening early childhood education and foundational fearning, improving Learning Assessment System, teachers development and vocational education etc.
Amid all this,the major concerns in education sector are still the access and affordability of high-speed Internet facility and computers or tablet devices for those belonging to economically weaker sections of society.
As the world opens windows to a new world order in 2021, our education system has new- sprung prospects to integrate technology with the development of its infrastructure. Let’s hope that this shift pave the way by being key to build a generation that can bring change and excel through ICT and utilize its potential to be a game-changer for generations in the decades to come, and ensure the overall progress of India.