Students from class 6 to 10 are having online classes due to the current pandemic to access education. But the issue is that only those students who have proper gadgets and access to the internet are only able to attend the online classes. Especially, students of government schools who are from economically weaker sections are facing a lot of difficulties.
An official with the Department of Primary and Secondary Education told that laptops or even smartphones for students are not afforded by the state government.
The official said that it is going to take a lot of money, and currently, they don’t have the resources to buy laptops or smartphones and also provide free internet access to the students having strength more than 70 lakh in government schools. However, the government is deciding to have pre-recorded classes via television.
The official further added that they have conducted a survey and found that over 95% of children in Karnataka’s government schools have a television set at home. They are thinking about airing pre-recorded classes. They are also deeming having a system where the children can call their teachers via phone and discuss any difficulties they face. This is also to assure that the children are monitored. However, they are yet to decide the logistics for this plan as they are waiting for the expert committee’s report to take further steps.
To study the feasibility of online learning the Karnataka government constituted an expert committee. The committee members confessed that there is a lot of discussions related to the online classes. They also explained that the system of online education violates the right to education and constitutional provisions on education.
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Dr. Niranjanaradhya, Senior Fellow, Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University said that the Right to Education states that education should not induce fear or anxiety, or take an unfriendly approach to learning. That learning should be balanced for all students. That is the bottom-line, and the current situation does not favor this. Education is not all about learning lessons from books. It’s a process of socialization, of teaching children how to establish relationships, develop a sense of fraternity. This cannot happen via online learning.
As per the expert committee members, one can learn better while communicating with teachers in a classroom.
A committee member added that children might be more anxious and confused. According to her interactive learning via television can be a part of learning but it cannot be the only learning. It is the responsibility of the state government to reopen the school as soon as possible with proper safety measures.
The committee members said that Karnataka would glimpse a minimum dropout rate of 30% in the next few months if the government does end up pushing for online learning.
A committee member added that mid-day meals were how they drew children to schools. Now there are no such means that the government can analyze whether the children are getting online education or not. There is a high chance that they start their normal life if online learning continues. They may lose a huge number of children to child labor as they may end up dropping out of school. If the government continues online learning, the dropout rate will be more than 30%.
Committee members noted that for most children in rural Karnataka, physical distancing, even within their homes, is a luxury, and by opening up schools for learning, there could be a better chance of ensuring that these students learn in a controlled environment.
Another member of the expert committee added that there are also parents who fear sending their children to school and that is reasonable. So far, this entire debate of online learning has centered around the urbanites. It is clear that education is not all about learning lessons from the book and the committee of experts, believes not to compromise with the ideology of education.