The government ensured that this contemporary situation of CORONA crisis will not be a hurdle in the education sector and students must be thorough with their learning pace and teachers should also be provided with adequate resources during the major lockdown in the country.
‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (Self-reliant India) has always been a dream of many of our eminent social workers, freedom fighters, policy makers and ruling regimes till date. Taking evidences from way back in early twentieth century to the contemporary scenario, education has always been a strong tool for achieving ‘Self Reliance’ in our country. Tenali Raman (Ramakrishna) in the early sixteenth century, talked about providing education for becoming ‘self dependent’, education for change and not just mere livelihood. Mahatma Gandhi in his book ‘Towards New Education’ clearly mentioned a strong linkage between self-reliance and imparting profound education in the society. Nelson Mandela also stated “Destiny of the nation is being designed in the classrooms”. In the 21st century, the dissemination of education has taken several forms. It is part and parcel of not only the rigid classroom structures but also of online modes of conduction of various programs. The teaching-learning process is no longer confined to conventional modes of lecture only, but has spread its branches and taken various other forms.
During this Corona pandemic (COVID 19), various initiatives have been taken to promote school education using television and other related online modes such that the youth of India does not suffer. The intention was also that it should not hamper the goals to be achieved under “Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan (Self-reliant India Mission)”.
Also, the Government of India has taken many recent initiatives during this Covid 19 pandemic. The Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitaraman’s announcement on 17th May 2020 marked the beginning of new era in 21st Century during the novel CORONA virus pandemic COVID-19 in which a robust and remarkable decision was made. This decision on the continuation and strengthening of ICT and Digital Education during and post-CORONA pandemic is an epic example of pursuing development even at the time of crisis. ‘PM eVIDYA programme’ was announced under which top 100 universities would be permitted to start online courses by 30th May 2020 respectively. The major focus of this programme is to foster more technology driven education in our country and to ultimately lead to self-sufficient India. This particular programme would consist of ‘Diksha’ (Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing) that would be involving various e- content as well as QR Coded textbooks for all the classes and this platform would be called as ‘ One Nation, One Digital Platform. Apart from using textbooks and e-books, there will be provision for learning via radio, community radio, podcasts and special e-content for the visually and hearing impaired students. Recent data and statistics also reveal that more than 600 million hits have been on ‘Diksha’ portal since 24 March 2020 till date.
The government ensured that this contemporary situation of CORONA crisis will not be a hurdle in the education sector and students must be thorough with their learning pace and teachers should also be provided with adequate resources during the major lockdown in the country. For this, the government is going to launch a special initiative called as ‘Manodarpan’ for providing psychosocial support and encouragement as well as contributing by giving assistance to students, teachers, families and all other stakeholders to invigorate their mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Apart from this robust decision by the Government of India, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has also taken an initiative in the form of development of a new ‘Academic Calendar’ for the students to engage them fully and effectively during this pandemic situation in our country. This calendar has been developed with a perspective to provide guidance, assistance and support to teachers with respect to various technological and social media tools for imparting education in an interesting and thought provoking way while sitting at their own places. It has been done by taking into consideration various different levels of tools such as television, radio, mobile, SMS, and other diverse forms of accessible tools. It also includes inculcation of other online activities, weekly time table and schedule to carry out those activities on regular basis and in a fun loving manner. Nearly about 200 textbooks have also been added to e- paathshala platform.
In addition to the above mentioned initiatives, the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) also came up with latest advances in live telecast sessions via Skype in collaboration with KVs, NVs, CBSE and NCERT through SWAYAM PRABHA DTH Channels namely, Channel Panini, Channel Sharda of NIOS and Channel Kishore Manch of NCERT respectively. Earlier, there were only 3 channels but now 12 channels are supposed to be added respectively. It is now more useful for learners to learn and gain knowledge effectively while sitting at their homes during this CORONA pandemic crisis. All the learners can now progressively engage themselves in the recorded lessons from 7:00a.m. to 1:00p.m. which will be followed by the live sessions from 1:00p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on the DTH Channels and NIOS YouTube channel respectively. There is also a provision enabling students to ask about any details of the sessions or any further queries via phone calls on the displayed numbers on the screen or by ‘Student Portal’ of NIOS website directly during live broadcast. This movement of technology and digitalization does not really ends here. Tata Sky and Airtel DTH operators have also agreed upon to air three SWAYAM PRABHA DTH channels on their platform.
COVID-19 crisis seems like a major driving force for revamping the Indian economy and rest of the world. This situation arose unexpectedly but yes, it spawned many expectations in the hearts of the common man. It has widened the scope of online education during these tough times. It has broadened the overall scope of the education sector by bridging the gap between desires and realities. New horizons of online education can be seen with a pinch of salt and can be further worked upon and improved again. It is a new trend which is here to stay for decades now and will strengthen the dream of Digital India. It is a challenge for the policy makers, skilled and unskilled labor force, human resources of the country as well as for the nature to uphold its strength again and bring drastic but useful, operative and efficient changes, which will result in rejuvenation and revival of the economy.
Education via online mode or television will prove to be beneficial for those having sound knowledge of computers and for those having concerned resources. But what about children who do not have any access to such resources? What about their education and what is their future ahead? ‘Atmanirbharta’ is not only for the ‘have’s’ but also for the ‘have not’s’. As an academician, or any other stakeholder, it is liability of the government to look into the matter seriously and to work for all those who are striving for education, those young minds that can build the new India.
The author is a research scholar in School of Education in Central University of Gujarat.