The Coronavirus pandemic and thus the following lockdown has forced schools and colleges across India to temporarily shut and this unprecedented move had created a huge gap within the education bodies despite the central and the government doing their best to support e-learning and online education. Globally, the Indian Education sector is amongst the most important, with an in-depth network of quite 1.4 million schools and 993 Universities, 39931 Colleges, and 10725 Stand-Alone Institutions listed on the AISHE web portal. Because the Indian education system was mostly supported by the offline system and classes. Most of the first, and secondary schooling sectors were all supported offline education system has got to opt the web classes for empowering the education, and for the advantages of the scholars. Many faculties within the country have switched to online classes thanks to the lockdown, but one in four students is unable to connect because they don’t have a laptop, desktop, or tablet, according to a survey by economic times.
Keywords: Education, Students, India, COVID-19, System.
India, officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the second-most populous country, the seventh-largest country by area, and the most populous democracy in the world. India has got a total population of 1.353 billion. If we see the School-age population by education level, Pre-primary 71,285,198, Primary 123,996,484, Secondary 177,432,640, Tertiary 122,369,632(Wickham, 2019). India has 2nd largest number of students in the world. India has played a very important in the history of the Education system as Nalanda university was one of the oldest universities in the world founded in the 5th Century BC. The antiquity of education was introduced with the education of traditional fundamentals like Indian religions, Indian mathematics, Indian logic at later Hindu and Buddhist centers of learning like prehistoric Takshashila (in modern-day Pakistan) and Nalanda (in India) BC(Arjayay, 2020). Immediately after freedom from British rule in 1947, the Department of Education was set up underneath the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), with a directive to increase both admittances to education and quality, leading to the first National Policy on Education in 1968. Two protuberant wits of the Indian government, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA – ‘Education for All Campaign’ in Hindi) in 2001 and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, have endorsed greater foci on issues of access, inclusivity, and quality in education(Wickham, 2019) India is a federation of states and the powers are alienated among the federal government and the states. Indian Education system is Governed by both federal & and state governments. However, the governance of the school education systems is by tradition with the states, whereas the central government makes national-level policies. Before 2020 India was following National Policy on Education, 1986, which was modified once in 1992. Beforehand, the first education policy was approved in 1968(ROY, 2020). The first case of the COVID-19 pandemic in India was reported on 30 January 2020 in the state of Kerala(Jena, 2020), and the first death due to COVID-19 was reported in India on March 12, 2020(Jena, 2020). To avoid the spread of pandemic COVID-19, the Government of India has taken several precautionary measures. The Indian government started a nationwide lock-down of all educational institutes on 16 March 2020(Khattar et al., 2020). Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) deferred all examinations of secondary and higher secondary schools on March 18, 2020, throughout India. Govt. of India has observed one day nationwide Janta-curfew on March 22 and implement lockdown from March 25, 2020, onwards in different phases(The Hindu, 2020). To cope up with this COVID situation and lockdown the education system of India has to go over several sudden changes. Before March 2020 the Indian students were not allowed to pressure two-degree courses simultaneously but on 22 march University Grants Commission (UGC) issued a notice to allow students to pursue two-degree programs at the same time. One of the degrees has to be in the regular method and the other either in open and distance learning or online(Ra, 2020). This was the 1st time in Indian history that online education was allowed by the UGC. As government and education bodies tried to promote the online education system in the COVID situation but the conduction to opt the online education was not a simple task for teachers and students of India. The COVID has played both a Good and Bad role for the Indian education system for its development as well as the downfall. Many Indian universities started online classes for full-time degrees/courses which is a very good step for those students who have access to good internet and smart devices/mobile/laptop(Kapasia, Paul, Roy, Saha, Zaveri, Mallick, Kumar, et al., 2020).
Students who don’t have a proper internet connection and smart devices are facing huge difficulty in this COVID lockdown. Mostly the students from a poor background and the students of government schools of India are having this issue.
Many studies have already shown the condition of the Government school in Indian states. If we compare the Teachers and faculties of government schools in India, they are very less aware of the online system/devises which are also the main reason of students not able to get proper online classes. Even the private sectors are not able to cope up well due to lack of study materials/books/notes which was offline based before COVID. As on the other side, many students are not able to handle this online system due to their course nature and practical knowledge required in the subjects. In many courses that were previously offline, the New registration has increased as the course has shifted online(Gomez et al., 2020).
2. CHANGE AFTER THREE DECADES (NPE 2020)
India National Education Policy was framed in 1986 and improved in 1992. More than three decades have passed since the previous Policy. In these three decades, education has got some major changes that the old Education policy was not able to handle. The main objective of education has changed to Quality, innovation, and research. National Education policy had to change the Indian education system infrastructure totally as new. The major change which NEP 2020 has done is Schooling starts at the age of 3 years now as compared to before schooling starts at 6 years. 6-14 years of mandatory schooling to 3-18 years of schooling. With a prominence on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), the 10+2 structure of the school program is to be substituted by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure consistent to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively. The NEP puts specialize in students’ maternal language because the medium of instruction whilst it sticks to the ‘three-language formula’ but also mandates that no language would be imposed on anyone. The NEP only recommends the maternal language as a medium of instruction and does not make it compulsory. The major governing bodies of the Indian education system are not replaced by one governing body. University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) is now the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI)(Education, 2020). Public and personal educational institutions are going to be administered by an equivalent set of rules for certification, and academic values. The govt will finish the affiliation of schools/colleges in 15 years and a stage-wise system is to be recognized for granting graded autonomy to high schools. Under NEP 2020, there’ll be no inflexible separations among arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams. Students can choose subjects of their interest across the streams. Vocational training will start in schools from the 6th grade and can include internships. Under the NEP, undergraduate degrees are going to be of either 3 or 4-year duration with multiple exit options within this era. College is going to be mandated to offer a certificate after completing 1 year during discipline or field including vocational and professional areas, a diploma after 2 years of study, or a baccalaureate after a 3-year program. Govt also will establish a tutorial Bank of Credit for digitally storing academic credits earned from different Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) so that these are often transferred and counted towards the final degree earned(Kumar, 2020). This is the most major change that had come in this COVID situation in Indian education.
National Education Policy
3. ONLINE EDUCATION IN INDIA
3.1 Increased number of online courses and online platforms
After the approval from UGC, the validation of online courses has increased in India(Raj, 2020). COVID has played a very important role in this. Many online platforms that were not so popular among Indian students are now the main sources of attraction of students. Many Nation institutes have started their degree program online 1st time in Indian history. Now students can opt for major degrees like Bachelor of Arts (BBA), Master of business administration (MBA), and many more on the online platform created by Nation institutes(Delhi & Singh, 2020). The number of certification courses provided by the Private/government institutes has also increased after seeing the interest of students in online mode. The digital initiatives of MHRD for secondary as well as higher education during COVID-19 are the Diksha portal covers e-Learning content for students, teachers, and parents associated with the program, video lessons, worksheets, textbooks, and assessments. Under the supervision of its national boards of education (CBSE) and NCERT, the National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) portal offers a mass of resources for students as well as teachers in numerous languages with books, interactive modules, and videos including a host of STEM-based games. Swayam is the national online education platform introducing 1900 courses covering both school (classes 9 to 12) and higher education (undergraduate, postgraduate programs) in all subjects counting engineering, humanities, and social sciences, law, and management courses (Jena, 2020)
3.2 Internet connectivity
It has been almost 6 months of the Indian education system under lockdown. All education bodies including private/Government has started or trying to start is online classes/webinars for students.This has alarmed in the student’s minds who are from the rural area of India or don’t have good internet connectivity at their places. According to a survey conducted by the Indian telecom ministry in 2020 January’s total active user of the Internet in India is 560 million.
Despite having 2nd largest number of active users in the world in the percentage of an active user is only 50% means only half of the Indian population has an internet connection.
When comes to the hose hold connection of internet a report by NSS (2017-2018) says that 23.8 percent of Indian households had access to the internet. The number drops to 12.5 percent when we consider Indian households with students who have access to the internet(Implementation, 2017). Quacquarelli Symonds (2020) reported that 50 percent of the houses which have fixed Broadband connection has poor internet connectivity(QS. I.GUAGE, 2020). This all shows that the Indian infrastructure has not yet achieved the state of quality to ensure delivery online classes to the students. The government had taken many steps to promote online education in India but some major issues are still missing to be taken care of.
COVID has pushed the Indian education system towards digitalization which is not possible without digital devices to access the online world to education. If we see the ration of Indian Education bodies like school/collages/university before COVID none of them were familiar with the online education system. By this time students still prefer offline classes on the online classes(Raj & Fatima, 2020). The latest survey by the National Council of Educational Research and Training in schools of India says that 27 percent of students don’t have any access to the smartphone/computer to opt online classes. This report also says that the teacher and staffs of the education bodies are not much familiar with the digital electronic device to teach the students without any technical hurdles. The availability of phones and laptops varies from government education bodies to private education bodies. The students studying in government schools have low family income and have fewer asses to the technology compared to the students studying in private schools in India. This is also a major issue to deal with to promote online education in India(Kapasia, Paul, Roy, Saha, Zaveri, Mallick, Barman, et al., 2020).
3.4 Impact on Practical learning because of online classes among students
We, humans, are the social animals grown up by the process of continuous evolution, either the alteration takes place in terms of body type, race, genome, or any behavioral modification. Ultimately, any change in life forms results in a paradigm shift toward a new era of learning & experiences respectively, which may or may not cause any potential threat in an individual’s livelihood. The pandemic shifts the offline culture of learning online leading to alternation from the basic to the advanced level of learning that somewhere favors the technical skill mastering for a student’s but the ground level proficiency is broken that emphasizing more on face to face skilled practical based knowledge. Moreover, the online classes are the only possible option for the students to maintain the continuity in their academics but the obvious confronting fact says that end efficacy of an average student is reduced due to multiple reasons, the likelihood ratio for online classes in between students is comparatively very less but the reforms & adjustments toward lifestyle leading to adaptability.
The modern era is all about the advancement & it is necessary to sound technical well for reducing human effort, at least a general information is needed while growing. The sudden shift toward online studies somewhere helping a student to know more about various technical things & the students from non-technical departments such as – medical, nursing, etc. can explore very well in this particular field. Also, life tells us all the unfortunate situations helping us to think rationally & adding new skills on daily basis for future references(Khattar et al., 2020). On the other side of the story, there is a decrease in the practical efficacy of students especially health care students because they are not exposed to patients, hospitals, clinics, cadaveric studies, laboratory, etc(Upadhyaya et al., 2020).
Not only a particular section is involved but students from legal ethics, engineering, hotel management are facing similar problems due to insufficiency in there practical learning. The main content source of gaining knowledge is books from the public, school, university & college libraries but the majority of Indian students are not even exposed to phones, laptops, and other gadgets than a student can’t buy from e-cart websites. An E-book is an alternative option for those having technical commodities but long-time exposure to online screens causes various eye, stress, headache & other medical symptoms leading to serious illness(Singh, 2020). Due to lifestyle modifications in this pandemic no. of students having week concentration, focus, and attention that too a barrier to gain maximum delivered content affecting both academic & practical skilled learning. A pattern of study changes at every domain starting making notes, regular reading habit, practicing session, instrumental studies, face-to-face doubt clearance till up to need of educational environment because multiple studies show that most of the students don’t have their personal space at home which is been needed for focusing on studies.
Global monitoring of school closures caused by COVID-1
3.5 Mental Health
Mental health is one of concern area in everyone’s life & the global pandemic affect individual daily lifestyle including all the parameters of physical, mental & social respectively.
The shutdown shifts the complete education system online which is having both pros & cons that vary among the student population(Sahu, 2020). Pros – Sudden alternation in the process of learning awakening young minds to take care of their mental health. A new pattern is shown among students related to self-care they are diversifying their mind toward skill full learning, self-exploration, self-care, building spiritual connect, enhancing creative & critical thinking process, etc. All these activities enhance mental immunity, healing internally, making them oriented toward work & ultimately helping them to grow wisely according to technology trend & balanced lifestyle(Kakunje et al., 2020). Cons – A 2019 report by Indian Express suggest that more than 7.5 percent of the Indian population is suffering from some form of mental disorder, there are known as well unknown causes are prevailing day by day. Mental illness constitutes 1/6th of all the health disorders and India accounted for nearly 15% of the global mental, neurological, and substance abuse disorder burden esteemed data by WHO. There is an ample number of studies published in the last 6-7 months regarding an excessive increase in mental illness cases among students which shows a sudden dynamic change from offline to online mode creating stress, anxiety, depression & other mental illness along with associated factors (like – social connect breakdown, daily active working process, lack of physical maintenance, over & under diet, etc.) leading to cause abnormal behavioral symptoms(Rehman et al., 2020). Multiple others cause such as: – reduction in practical efficacy, alter in a pattern of learning, shifting maximum offline written work to online, etc. developing unknown stress related to management & workload distribution because every single student is not skilled enough while managing multiple things at a time. A positive solution to manage mental health is giving timely relaxation in between class, organizing mental health sessions at weekends related to mediation, stress management, anxiety, depression, etc. for helping students to cope up from sudden distress. Some interactive offline activities related to self-care, hobbies & interest must be organized by class teachers for students of smaller grades (up to – 8th class). Parents play an important role in helping there children’s in studies, appropriate diet maintenance, timely encouragement, physical fitness, storytelling & many more recreational activities(Ahuja, 2020)(Malik, 2020).
Tips For Mental Care
3.6 Coping adaptability of universities, colleges, schools, students & faculties due to new shift toward online classrooms
As WHO announces COVID-19 a global pandemic, the Indian government starts taking preventive measures to stop the widespread virus among citizens & start publishing no. of guidelines for every sector for their closer & working protocols similarly the educational sector shuts down. Universities, colleges & schools start coming up with their circulars regarding closer & online classrooms respectively, still, various institutes are waiting for the re-opening of educational bodies in April but the condition becomes worsen and almost the majority of the educational organizations are not even prepared for shifting the daily face-to-face classes into virtual setup(Dhawan, 2020)(Sarif, 2020). Popular private organizations started their mid academic session via online mode through social meeting apps such as- Zoom, Google meet, Microsoft office, etc. to compensate the year & study loss still government schools, colleges don’t have any plan of execution to minimize the educational loss but a very few universities from central govt. start taking steps toward online studies, exams, assignments & academic year. Rural Indian institutes either private or government never have any prior experience for the online studies along with this still majority of the schools & collages facing issues with new educational learning(Sarif, 2020)(Choudhary, 2020). Professors from almost all the universities are putting their eminence efforts for providing education to their students even in such a transformed situation.
A lot of work is done by the faculties before taking a live session or uploading a recorded session, as preparing for study material, assignment, test papers, classes till up to resolving doubts & helping the students in their emotional state as well as a commendable service given by the teachers.
At the end of the day, teachers are also humans they are facing diversified problems for example; senior faculty members have adapted the offline environment of teaching since the classes shift a majority of senior faculty members are facing issues with the online teaching system because earlier never, they were technically exposed well. Preparing study material, assignments, exam papers, academic maintenance respectively creating a burden at a single time of execution. Education is not restricted only up to conducting classes but it is about interactions, brainstorming, open discussions, unconditional doubts & individual mentoring of every single student but as of now a lot get lost in this transitional conversion of online classes, It’s a need of the hour for advance up-gradation of the online educational system at all level of universities, colleges, schools & helping faculty members in building their comfort according to working efficacy(Sarah Farooqui, 2020). The main concerning highlights in the education system are students by whom all the possible stories are revolving around, a bunch of students from various organizations is trying to adapt to the sudden changes due to pandemic still, not everyone is in the same state of adjustment. It is good to have education in this tough period but everyone must be benefited in maximum possible measures. Academic grades are matter able for students especially those are in final years because after course completion they have to search for internships, jobs or higher studies in that academic reports matter a lot but the perceived rate of stress in final year students is quite high assessed in a study which affecting their overall professional efficiency(Sheroun et al., 2020).
Statement coming from students belonging from most of the Indian institutes regarding their perception, problems, benefits, pandemic & health is varying randomly. Studying online is not an easy task because it needs practice & timely self-evaluation including fulfillment of all the availabilities from digital gadgets, proper internet connectivity, required study material, appropriate data & a familiar study environment(Sarah Farooqui, 2020).
Life is all about upgrading & dealing with difficult situations adding new experiences in daily learning, timely working on our self makes us more flexible toward life. The complete education system is fighting with a pandemic, every single stratum under the educational domain either students, parents, faculties, schools, colleges, universities, or the government itself are putting all together efforts in the betterment of virtual education systems but for the future, we all get a reality check regarding issues faced in the education system & for developing a full flagged online study environment every sector in the country must contribute accordingly. The upcoming era is going to become more advance & technical all over the globe, developing country India needs prosperous growth in terms of education because – a life of joy & happiness is possible only based on knowledge and science. ( Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, India’s first Vice President)
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