Akshay Aggarwal

The horrendous Corona crisis has already started to expose the hollowness of the Indian political dispensation. On the one hand, this pandemic has thrown out in open in full public glare the ill-equipped, imperfect, inefficient and wobbly health-care infrastructure and on the other, it has subjected the education system to a litmus test. The Corona crisis hasn’t only tested the very moorings and foundations of education systems but also brought about a seismic shift in the contours of the calculus of dissemination of knowledge.As the lockdown imposed across the length and breadth of India,the concept of E-learning has been beginning to gain currency by leaps and bounds. An array of mode of digital learning are rolled out. One needs not to be a rocket scientist to proclaim that the concept of E-learning has parachuted for which the education system of India was found to be ill-equipped and unprepared.Both teacher and student who were enjoying the cosy traditional classroom settings got whirlpooled into the tumultuous digital learning scenario. It’s certainly a war cry, literally speaking, out of the blue.

The ongoing mammoth Corona crisis has presented us with an opportunity to overhaul the outdated education system so that it can absorb the tremors and socks arising out of any kind of emergency.

Need to teach the teachers

The teachers are in dire need of comprehensive on – the – job training in order to make them high quality online content creators so that remote teaching can be made a win – win preposition.They must be trained in order to make E – learning a panacea for the ills plaguing the education system (s).But, this yearns for heavy investment in digital infrastructure including setting up of virtual laboratories, development of online teaching tools, etc.There is no denying the fact that E – learning if executed in a planned and sophisticated way can turn the tables.So, it’s a high time to induct technology into the educational scheme of things. The National Education Policy , 2020 itself advocates the use of technology in education.

A Digital Gap

Another vital concern is of low bandwidth . In order to give a much – needed filip to the very idea of E – learning the issues related to the bandwidth problems must be sorted out at the earliest. A much – touted Digital India programme of Government of India aimed at transforming India into a vibrant digitally empowered and knowledge based economy is nothing but a far cry. The concept of E-learning besets with crippled bandwidth is a recipe for a disaster. The latest National Statistical Organization (NSO) survey starkly points out the digital divide prevalent in India to such an alarming extent that 4.4% rural households have computer (whether desktop/tablet/laptop ) and 23.4% urban households with computer. This survey goes on saying that only 14.9% have internet access and 42% urban households with internet.That shows how the pandemic has exposed the deep- rooted digital divide .Adding insult to the injury is a new report by Oxfam which states that 80% of Indian students couldn’t access online study during the lockdown and might shoot up the dropout rate.The National Education Policy , 2020 which does aspire to make ” India a global knowledge superpower ” will find it difficult, if not impossible, to hit the bull’s eye against the backdrop of such spartan digital setting. The government of the day must come out of slumber to execute the digital empowerment programme in true letter and spirit.

Snarling economic inequality

The another roadblock is the ever- widening chasm between the haves and have – nots.The unbridged gulf is criminally narrowing down the scope of digital learning. The Corona crisis has also nudged the employment skeleton to tumble out of the closet.This has unmasked the weak underbelly of unethically flimsy employment system of India. A large section of populace is hard- pressed to get a square meal. In such a bleak and hopeless framework people can’t think of anything like smartphone, internet access , net pack, etc, which are the prerequisites for online learning. Needless to say ,a well thought out ,target oriented and calibrated approach must be put into play so that the lot of poorer section of society can be improved upon which will ,in final analysis, add fuel to the engines of economy including E – learning.

Last but not least, as things stand , one can say that we aren’t fully ripened yet to embrace the concept of online learning. It’s not tantamount to moon – landing to understand that online learning is a sumptuousness that not everyone can incur in India. So,the need of the hour is to have a holistic approach in the field of digital learning which may one way or another lay the foundation of a knowledge based economy.