Bhubaneswar: The Covid-19 pandemic has given our education system a completely new horizon by introducing the digital method of the teaching-learning process. Even though it has been started in compulsion and initially treated as a shortcut or temporary substitute for continuing education of the students designed to go with COVID appropriate behaviour, now it has almost incorporated as a method that can provide holistic education to the children through the digitalized format. This method has also made the parents realise the importance of homeschooling to a great extent.
homeschooling is a parent-led education system, physical schooling is teacher-led and online schooling is based on the interest of the student. All these teaching-learning processes are mostly confined to urban, educated and affluent sections that have the privilege of taking a comparative choice for the betterment of their children. Presently, the online education method is no more a substitute but a preferred choice by the parents to provide the children with overall growth along with proper time management. By getting more space to be involved in the academic and extra-curricular activities of the children, parents consider online schooling a more feasible option.
Having mentioned that our state is prominently covered by a rural population that has scanty financial stability. Most of the households in the rural areas drill send their children to work either in agricultural fields or as bondage labourers to meet their family needs. If the scenario is a little better the children go to school by getting influenced by the mid-day meal programs. In the course of the pandemic children in the remotest districts of Odisha struggled to continue their education as the schooling was shifted to digital mode. Poor internet network connection, lack of smartphones in the family, parents losing jobs and livelihoods, and a family struggling to ends meet are some of the notable factors because many children were forced to drop out of school.
When we talk about the digital education system being the new method of schooling and the future of our children, the New Education Policy (NEP) has incorporated many criteria which in a way promote the digital mode of education. Nevertheless, it need not be forgotten that the children who are deprived of basic rights and requirements to survive a healthy and safe life, can they afford to avail themselves of a fancy education method like digital education. The scenario becomes further worse for the girl children/ students considering the already existing gender gap in the education system in India.
Because the pandemic had brought deprivation for the rural children in education, girl children were again sidelined and discriminated against attending online classes and continuing education. There have been many crucial factors such as the family having limited monetary resources after losing livelihood, not possessing more than one smartphone, girls helping the mothers in household chores and so on. As per many research reports, the girl’s dropout rate from school is way higher than the dropout rate of the boys during the pandemic.
Therefore, before integrating digital education into the new education system it is vital to ponder upon the gap between the rural and urban education systems, the gender discrimination in various levels of education the girls, and create an equitable environment for all irrespective of any, social and geographical distinction. The government needs to take serious steps to fill the inadequacy at different levels in our education system. All children should get the equal and rightful opportunity to access qualitative education barring their vulnerabilities.