We are a country of people who to date boast about the kind of education system we have been following from the times as old as the existence of India (Bharat) itself. In ancient India, education and knowledge were imparted in Gurukuls, a residential schooling area where parents sent their children to seek the necessary education and returned only after the completion of their education. Here the Guru (teacher) imparted education to the Shishya (students). Gurukul was a place where pupils not just learnt the theoretical and practical worldly knowledge related to politics, history, and geography but were also taught values, moral ethics, love, humanity, basic manners, disciplines, and principles. This ensured the overall development and shaping of an individual.
Time, however, has changed drastically. From being the nation that laid importance on education as well as moral values, we have become a nation that merely stresses importance on gaining high grades.
Today our education system is filled with loopholes that are costing the Indian students huge amounts of damage. A major loophole in our education system is the rigid method of teaching. Our education system is incompatible with the current global scenario. Rather than focusing on, and imparting practical knowledge, students in India are taught to rote learn textbooks from an early age and paste these learnt answers into answer sheets during written examinations. As a result, students graduate with no real knowledge.
Other loopholes in our current form of education are that students are constantly made to run behind marks, made to study concepts that have become redundant, a more theoretical rather than practical approach towards a particular subject is adopted which makes it difficult for the students to apply it in the real world, and students are made to believe that securing the highest grades in the examination is the ultimate goal of one’s education process.
In addition to this, everything students learn in school are subjects that are a part of the academic syllabus. Value, ethics, principles and morals are giving secondary importance and in some schools and colleges, these aspects of education are not even addressed. The only form of moral education children and teenagers receive is from their parents at their home, a place where they hardly spend any time. This hampers the overall development of students.
Taking note of these drawbacks of the education system, many educational institutions have now started adopting ways to better the learning process of students by changing the rigid pedagogy and integrating various student-friendly learning methods like on-field projects, experiments, open classroom discussions, participation in events, and other knowledge-driven co-curricular activities like debates, seminars, workshops, etc. Moreover, with the emergence of online learning, education now has started taking new routes. It has not just made available a variety of study options and subjects but has also made education cost-effective and affordable for those who cannot afford on-campus education.
Very recently, with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown situation worldwide, the education system, not just in India but across the world turned upside down making all the education takers and givers completely dependent on technology. Schools and colleges are now striving to adopt the online way of imparting education and developing measures to integrate e-learning in their methods of teachings.
While doing this, the teaching bodies must keep in mind the importance of the overall development of a child’s personality and developing plans accordingly. Schools and colleges that have now shifted online to continue with their academic year, can tie up with various e-learning platforms or other institutes known for offering classes of dancing, sports, speech, and drama, etc who too have gone online during the lockdown. Such collaboration between educational institutes and recreational platforms ensure the holistic development of students even when at home.
One such organization that has gone online to continue teaching their students is The Sound Space, known for imparting the knowledge of music to young and old. The Sound Space is currently organizing online sessions on Indian Classical music for the young audience. Those who wish to be a part of it can visit their website for more information.
There are various other similar platforms that have opened their gates for those willing to learn additional skills during the lockdown. Many well-known online learning platforms like Coursera and Udemy too, have started offering free online courses that are not just restricted to academic subjects but also offer learnings in areas like time management and personal well being.
Moreover, keeping in mind that education must reach even the children coming from low-income groups in times of lockdown, many NGOs have initiated campaigns and projects that are working towards continuing the education of such children. The Bombay Community Public Trust NGO has started a free online campaign, the English E.Teach #30daychallenge. To make this campaign reach to a wider audience, the trust used their connections with a vast network of Municipal and Zilla Parishad school teachers over WhatsApp, to reach out to the parents whose children are home, bored and would like to spend 30 minutes every day, learning English online. Every day, the parents and teachers receive a WhatsApp message in English and Marathi from the trust, with that day’s video links. All the parents, teachers and children have to do is select the link of the standard their child is in, and let them watch the videos for that day, every day. They are requested to play the videos two or three times for the children if needed.
Although e-learning was existent in India before the pandemic, classroom learning continued to predominantly be the primary source of education. Now with the outbreak of coronavirus, educational institutes in India are compelled to adapt to this new way of imparting and receiving knowledge. Video chatting platforms like Zoom, Google duo, Hangouts, Google Meet, Skype, etc are making it easier for teachers to conduct virtual classes. We are, however, going to take time to build a teacher and student-friendly online education infrastructure to be able to efficiently exchange knowledge. So, though a long one, we seem to have begun this journey in the right direction.