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EDUCATION IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

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Mrs. Poonam Bijoor, Head of Operations at British Learning, addressed the students of the Middlesex University,  about “Education in the Post-Pandemic World”. In her lecture Poonam, referred to some very informative articles on the same topic, and stressed on the following points:

Covid 19 Pandemic has resulted in unprecedented chaos across all industries, with the education sector being no exception. In such a problematic time, society and industries have sought to counter the disruptions caused by the pandemic through ‘great decentralization,’ which is, “work-from-home”.

Similarly, for most colleges and universities online education has been becoming a norm. However, online education possesses some limitations pertaining to the digital divide in India.

Poonam urged that the government and other authorities in education should see this disruption caused by the pandemic as an excellent opportunity to improve the public education system and aim to make it more egalitarian.

Poonam later highlighted the Associated Challenges with Online Education Digital Divide: 

While e-education is a privilege for upper and middle-class students, it has proved to be a nuisance for students from the lower middle class and people living below the poverty line.

Many poor students who don’t have access to e-resources (computers, laptops, internet connectivity) are not be able to attend classes from home.

The commercialization of Education: With online education becoming a norm in the post-pandemic era, there is a significant possibility of corporate houses, technology firms, and educational institutions working much more closely together. 

Though this may have a significant positive effect on the education sector, it may further aggravate the ongoing commercialisation of the education sector and exclude the self-dependent tutors.

Poonam then referred to some interesting articles by some well-known figures in education and suggested the Steps To Be Taken.

Online Education as a common good: The Centre and the state governments should start making access to technology universal and more feasible in the public education system. 

Also, as part of CSR, private players can involve tech-based organisations to make e-resources accessible and available to students, especially in government and low-income private schools.

  • Expansion in the scope of Right to Education: The definition of the right to education needs to expand and promote online education so that it addresses the importance of connectivity and access to knowledge and information.
  • Valuing the teaching profession: Digital innovation provides a remarkable opportunity for the democratisation of education.

However, there is a need to encourage conditions that give frontline educators autonomy and flexibility to act collaboratively.

  • Protection of the social spaces provided by education institutions: Traditional classroom organization must give way to online education. However, school or education as a social space (whereby a student not just learns the academic knowledge but many social skills also) is indispensable.
  • Ensuring scientific literacy within the curriculum: This is the right time for deep reflection on the curriculum, particularly as a society still struggles against superstitions and actively fights misinformation.

Poonam then concluded her talk with the following points:

Covid-19 has shown the extent to which the Indian system of education exploits inequalities. Thus, there is a need for renewed commitments to the synergy between the private and public education sectors. In this context, there is a need to make education a common good, and digital innovation can help achieve the feat.

Poonam’s speech was very well appreciated by the students with thunderous applause. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/poonam.bijoor

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