Declare 2020 A ‘Zero Academic Year’, Says Education Activists: COVID-19
Education experts and activists debated declaring this year a “zero academic year”, keeping in view the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
New Delhi: A Webinar hosted by the Right To Education Forum, or RTE Forum, educationists and activists discussed challenges for education during COVID-19 including digital learning, re-opening schools, and fees.
In a webinar hosted by the Right To Education Forum, or RTE Forum, education experts and activists debated declaring this year a “zero academic year”, keeping in view the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Ashok Agarwal, a Delhi-based lawyer and activist suggested that the ongoing academic year should be canceled and students should be promoted without exams. "A majority of parents are not in favour of opening schools. They do not wish to risk the lives of their children,” Mr. Agarwal said.
RTE Forum is a group of academics, activists and NGOs working on education. The webinar had experts from Odisha, West Bengal, and Delhi.
Prabir Basu,West Bengal convener of the RTE Forum, argued that the government needs to increase spending on educational infrastructure.
COVID-19 And Digital Learning
To continue the teaching-learning project, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, or MHRD, and state governments, have introduced different e-learning aids. Institutes have shifted to online classes and examinations. Students, however, do not seem to benefit from the online classes as they have complained that it is not beneficial for them. Educationists have also talked about the challenges of online learning in India.
According to Anil Pradhan, Odisha convener of RTE Forum, the impact of digital learning has been “minimal” in the state.“Only three coastal districts of Odisha have been able to access digital learning and there too it has been limited to WhatsApp forwards from the educational department,” said Mr. Pradhan.
“There is no alternative to classroom learning. Digital learning can only be used as a complementary tool but it cannot be considered a substitute,” Mr. Agarawal said.
Criticizing MHRD’s decision to reduce syllabus and reopening schools, Mr. Agarwal said, “They [government] will form their decision based on the digital classes which will be absolutely ridiculous.”
COVID-19 And School Fees
Instead of repeated guidelines, announcements by different state governments, major private schools across the country are continuously asking parents to submit fees said both Mr. Basu and Mr. Pradhan.
“The government has been silent on the matter of smaller schools and fee collection,” Mr. Pradhan said.