Nov, 2020 - By Shravan Kumar
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected educational systems in India, leading to the near-total closure of schools, universities and colleges. The education sector has been fighting to survive the crises with a different approach.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every sector across the globe. The education system in India as well as the global sector has been affected by the pandemic. The educational institutes including schools, colleges and universities have been closed owing to nationwide lockdown implemented by the government. Classes have been suspended and all examinations such as entrance tests have been postponed indefinitely. Thus, the lockdown has hampered the schedules of almost every student. Due to the current situation, the schools and colleges are closed. Undoubtedly, this is a crucial time for the education system as entrance tests for several universities and competitive examinations are held during this period.
As schools and universities are stills shut, more than 285 million students are suffering due to the hindrance in learning. Many teachers and faculty members of various education institutes are facing salary cuts. According to UNESCO, since the outbreak of COVID-19 began, some 1.37 billion students in 138 countries worldwide have been affected by school and university closures. Nearly 60.2 million school teachers and university lecturers are no longer in the classroom.
Many education institutions have paused faculty hiring. According to Quacquarelli Symonds, 47.38% of students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields changed their plans for higher studies abroad. The figure for non-STEM students is at 51.59%. If the situation persists, then there will be a huge decline in demand for international higher education.
The lockdown has led all education institutions to cancel their classes, examinations and internships and choose online modes of learning. Initially, there was confusion among teachers and students with regard to coping with the situation. However, the lockdown has taught so many lessons on managing the pandemic.
This lockdown has given teachers and students a way to continue education through online. The teacher deliver their lectures through various video conferencing apps like, Zoom, Google Meet, Facebook live, Skype etc.
The perception of schools was changed under Lockdown. With schools closed for months, e-learning has taken Centre stage all over the world. Moving ahead digital learning has become the new normal for schools and other institutes. The lockdown has accelerated adoption of online classes. Lockdown has given a chance to students to develop skills through online learning in a more productive and efficient way. There are many benefits of digital learning as it has no physical boundaries and students get to learn new things within their comfort-zone.
Moreover, there have been many digital initiatives from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for secondary as well as higher education during this pandemic.
The Central government has launched online platforms and applications to aid learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This portal provides e-learning content for students which include videos lectures, textbooks, and worksheets among other resources. This app has been created by more than 250 teachers in multiple language. The app contains more than 80000 books for classes 1 to 12 and is also available online.
It is an e-learning app by NCERT for classes 1 to 12. The app is available in multiple languages. It consists of 696 books and over 2000 videos.
This is an online education app which has more that 1900 online courses that covers 9th to 12th standard classes and higher education (undergraduates and postgraduate) in all subjects including engineering, law, and management courses.
Following a nationwide lockdown in India, there has been an increase in users who have registered for online courses and EdTech platforms. According to Inventiva, India’s EdTech Market leader, Byju’s learning app witnessed a threefold increase in its web traffic. Other competitors such as Topper, UpGrade have also seen a significant increase in the traffic.
Positive impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on education:
Though we have been given a lot of hindrance by the global pandemic, many things seem to have happened in favor of the educational system.
The Indian education system needs to transform from a traditional approach and adopt digital methods. The pandemic has accelerated demand for digital education and encouraged students and teachers to learn and work together and gather knowledge.
Moreover, the pandemic have provided an opportunity to EdTech platforms to strengthen their learning management system. There is high demand for EdTech platforms. For instance, the Amity Group now offers degree programmes online with the University Grants Commission’s new regulation. India’s higher education regulator allowed universities to offer lectures that are recorded or delivered through video-conferencing and discussed in an online discussion forum. E-learning content can be used in place of textbooks and with Amity including a provision for self-assessment.
Ask.Careers, the online learning and counselling platform run by Thadomal Shahani Group complements its franchised network of colleges and schools including the Thadomal Shahani Centre For Management (TSCFM). Students can download Ask.Careers course apps for banking, digital marketing, BBA, MBA and more, and access the course content for free
Due to e-learning, students are taking online notes and preparing digitalized copies of their work which saves paper and benefits the environment.
There has also been a collaborative effort from both, teachers and students, to work in this environment. Furthermore, students can easily connect with teachers around the world through online meeting and teleconferencing.
Students can also attend webinars and seminars taking place around the world and gain knowledge from scholars and experts from different fields. It has also increased the digital literacy rate. Students can now take as many online course as they want. Moreover, educators around the world have an opportunity to interact with each other.
EdTech platforms has provided various options for students to learn different courses and prepare for higher education and competitive exams. Sharing of learning material has also become very easy with the help of various apps and social media.
Negative impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on education:
Most of the Job recruitments and placements have been postponed as companies are delaying the on-boarding of new employees. As a result, unemployment has increased. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s estimates on unemployment shot up from 8.4% in mid-March to 23% in early April and the urban unemployment rate increased to 30.9%.
The teachers were unprepared of this situation and were not in a position to conduct the classes online as many teachers were not trained digitally.
Many Indians have returned home after losing their jobs overseas due to COVID-19. Moreover, many students who received offer letters are not able to join the company due to lockdown. According to a report by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), which comes out with the coveted global ranking for educational institutions, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the decisions of over 48% of Indian students who wanted to study abroad. In this change, experts at QS have pointed out that the significantly lower return on investment in an already expensive international higher education sector, coupled with further reduced chances of employability in the post-COVID-19 world, plays a key role.
There are several students who are unable to access the internet or cannot afford computers. This lockdown has severely impacted low- and mid-income groups who are may not have sufficient or easy access to internet and e-learning. This may create a gap between rich and poor children.
Ability to adapt to online education is easier for English medium students and teachers due to the ready availability of tools or content. In vernacular languages, which dominate the Indian school education scene, the situation is opposite. Just a handful of Ed-tech companies have vernacular content.
Moreover, some students are likely to face challenges in paying fees for schools, colleges and other educational institutions. Many parents and caregivers are facing problems during the lockdown owing to unemployment or lack of work.
Digital learning is highly dependent on Internet and electricity which is still a problem for some of the tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Many students live in rural areas so connectivity remains the issue. Interrupted learning during the pandemic will be an issue for many students who stay in rural areas.
There is lot of comfort in learning at home. However, there are certain issues, such as lack of internet connectivity and electricity that can hamper learning from home. Moreover social media platforms and messaging applications such as Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat etc. can serve as distractions while learning from home.
Developers need to build purposeful and well-defined online courses which support the instructor and learner. This may involve embedding the applicable course elements into an e-learning module.
Teachers can create interactive projects which will allow students to interact with each other and work collaboratively with each other.
With the increasing demand for digital learning programs, teachers need to be trained in order to increase the quality of education.
The government of India needs to provide proper internet facilities and electricity to rural areas as well as proper infrastructure to low- and mid-income communities to help students continue their education during the pandemic.