When the Government of India announced lockdown starting March 23, 2020, little did we know that most of the businesses will be closed and schools shut for extended periods. With schools being closed and a surge in online classes, the educated Indian population adapted well. Savings came in handy. The tech industry was the least impacted with business as usual. But people from the lower middle class struggling to make ends meet with kids in the family it isn’t an easy ride.
In June 2020, I wrote a post on how education will be democratized and it is possible for kids of various backgrounds to get the same kind of education post COVID. At the outset, it all looks promising with bold steps from the folks in power. However having gotten deep into this and having had a little bit of interaction with students of various backgrounds, we know that there are significant issues with the current state of education.
The loss of touch
If your kids live in a comfortable home, studying in a private school, with access to computers and online teachers, you have a problem of plenty. We often hear parents complaining that their children are always with a gadget and they are not sure if it will help them in the long run.
However, at the other end of the spectrum, you have hundreds of thousands of children studying in Government schools with no access to computers or comfortable homes. Here we have a bigger problem. A lot of students seem lost and not sure about how they need to be spending their time. A lot of kids also leave school and start working. When the schools reopen, it may be difficult to get these kids back to school. This will leave a generation behind.
When will schools reopen?
If you step out of your home and walk into the streets in India, you do not find a big difference between pre and post-Covid. Things look so normal. There is a wait for seating in restaurants, businesses are back to normalcy and places are bustling as usual. We could be doing more to protect the interests of kids in Government schools.
What can we do?
We like it or not, the current educational system in India has worked for the most part. We could be doing a lot of improvements, however at-least in the State of Tamil Nadu we have had bright engineers and doctors emerge from Government schools. We need to act. We cannot afford to leave these children behind and should not be waiting any longer.
The government can and should hire more teachers and reopen schools for all grades. Classes can and should be held in the playgrounds with COVID protocols. If all this is not possible, teachers should be visiting students at their homes and helping students succeed. We could come up with creative ways to bridge the gap. We cannot afford to have any child left behind and it is a gross injustice to society.
We’re still left with the question- When will schools reopen?