Right to Education: Pandemic Viewpoint

At present, we all are living in a world which we have not imagined so far. The huge waves of corona pandemic hit across whole word. Leaving no place unhampered. Our society get  collapsed and economy is ruined. When all corners of the world is affected, our educational system too get interrupted. This is evident when , the schools, colleges and universities were shutdown across our country   by mid of March 2020  to reduce the spreading of virus and for ensuring social distance. In order to cope up with this situation and to ensure valuable time of students  were not wasted it become a pressing duty on the part of teachers, parents, and authorities concerned  to search for a new alternative of transferring knowledge to all. This point mark as  a huge shift from the so called traditional method of education  to a newer method of  education through digital Platforms  called “online education”.

Once we   deviate from the pattern of learning which we were familiar for so long and started learning through virtual classrooms, webinars, online meetings ,exam and, video conferencing , everyone of us faced great uncertainty and doubt regarding  how this new method will be  progressing forward. What is required here is to adopt and adapt to this new world. This was one of the challenge among  many.  Why this is so because education is strongest wealth of any country. When education is provided to a generation we can say that  a better society has been created. So education is something we can’t compromise. Once  we get slowly adapted  to the new form Of learning. We started to realise it’s possible drawbacks and difficulties in operation.

Despite many difficulties created by online education, It had come up with certain  positives. “online education saves many. ” classrooms like any other place  will be actively occupied during classes so there will be a greater chance of spreading virus. Digital learning helps to handle  this situation by balancing learning on other hand ie, we are able to continue our learning without sacrificing our life.

Online learning reduced the cost of learning materials and  travel expenses and other expenses which we have to  bear  if we are moving to schools and colleges. The true fact is that this cost will be much less than what we have to bear for attending online classes.

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

Even if there are advantages provided by online education. The biggest drawback put forward by  this new system is it cast a huge hurdle on our ‘RIGHT TO EDUCATION’.Education is strongest weapon a man will ever had. It develops human, socially and psychologically. Nation have to educate it’s citizen, who will be informed, strong, and creative.  Education is not bounty but our it’s our right. Right to education ha s  accorded the status of Fundamental right  by 86th amendment to Indian  Constitution in 2002,it was added to part 3 of the Constitution. The same amendment inserted Article 21A which made right to educational a fundamental right for the children between the age of 6-14 years of age.

IMPACT OF PANDEMIC   : RIGHT TO EDUCATION

#) This basic fundamental right get badly affected by online education ,it have many reasons as well. First and foremost  , when corona brought serious economic crisis, it increased the level of unemployment throughout the country, where families try hard to meet their necessary needs. Here  online education of their children  in each family requiring expensive  infrastructure  such as internet connectivity, Television ,mobile phones, computers  become a luxury which they could not afford. Parents finding difficult to meet the ends of life are willing to sacrifice on their child’s learning. This is mostly true in the case of poor households of rural villages of India.

 In a survey conducted by  ‘save the children ‘2020 , during pandemic period, report suggests  discontinuation of  students  learning from 62 percent of the surveyed household is with 67 percent in rural. And 55 per cent from urban areas.

#)Child labour  has been increased in an unprecedented rates  , only  reason behind this can be  children who are dropping out from school  as they can’t  bear the cost  might moving out to get engaged in any economic activity and helps parents in earning. In total we can say that economic crisis as a result of corona pandemic  indirectly  infringed children’s right to education.

#)Taking into consideration  school level Education, classroom provide child a place to learn new things  everyday, they will develop their social skills, learn to communicate and interact. . This is what we can call  as early childhood  education and care, it can  be provided to a child through  pre school trainings and anganwadis, by which a child is developed physically, and mentally. So, the closure of schools and shift to online classrooms put a bar  on these opportunities which will otherwise be provided by class rooms. This can be considered as a form of infringing child’s right to education as what a offline schooling can contribute to a child’s life cannot be equated with learning in front of machines.

#)Once the schools and colleges were closed  concerning the health and safety of the  students. Whole learning process being shifted to online  , digital and e learning platforms, government portals, direct to home channels become common , which  created another  crisis. This sharpened the differences  and inequality which is  already existing between the poor students in rural areas, and their affluent counterparts   in urban households. The major reason for this is that , learning through new methods  posed a challenge for students and created differences among students who find difficult to  have access to basic infrastructures required to attend online classes, such as internet connection, smartphones, computers, electricity connection  in one hand  and those students  who can afford these requirements to  continue with education, this situation can often called as  ‘digital divide’.

As per MOSPI reports only 4.4 percent household in India have computer  as compared to 23.4 percent houses have computer facility.

Here ,we can see that, our basic  fundamental right is being infringed  only on the reason  that someone is financially backward and economically  underprivileged  so that  he/she can’t enjoy their fundamental right. This is one of the harsh reality faced even  today by the poor students of rural India,. Only because of their poor background they couldn’t cherish their dreams of getting educated.

#)Online learning make  the situation more difficult for  students of non stable financial background. There are many  children in school especially in rural India who depended on mid day meals to feed themselves. It might be their food for the entire day. Mid day meal programme is something launched  by our government as a part of  five year planning, while keeping in mind  many  hidden intentions,  to make more students to attend the class, to feed the hungry and to ensure  malnutrition in children under control. When the school get closed students who depend on this  find difficult to feed them. They searched new jobs in small age to earn for living.

#)Gender inequality to get educated is another difficulty created by c  pandemic . Families in low income strata ,didn’t give much importance to girl child’s learning, it’s result become more severe after  this pandemic because  families didn’t put any initiate to continue and complete the education of girls when school going is stopped by pandemic they are more encouraged to make them involved in household chores and so there was an increased dropouts as well. When this inequality in education exist  girls find it difficult  to get any job, increased chance of being exploited. This is something which can be overcome by strongly enforcing the basic fundamental right  ‘ right to education. ‘

MEASURES TO BE  ADOPTED.

In order  to reduce school dropouts  during corona pandemic  government has to provide all types of financial support   to keep students active in learning and to ensure they are not been affected by difficulties of low income in their families, for this govt has to provide scholarship and other non monetary facilities  for online education such as  electricity connection in all rural households, mobile phones, Or laptops, television etc.

For reducing child labour, already existing laws for preventing child labour has to be implemented strongly at the same time government has to take over the whole expense of students education. And should provide them  facilities to take part in online education in safe  environment. The new phenomenon called digital divide which is the result of    inequal availability of  digital facilities to continue with online education can be minimised by effective involvement and efforts from the part of government to provide with all facilities to students especially in poor households.

Any kind of benefits such as provision for mid  day meals  had to be made available  for students in their homes itself, will helps to maintain a situation once  students  enjoyed  to  get feeded  from. Schools.

CONCLUSION

Pandemic is continuing day by day, schools and colleges remain closed , education  has to be  continued in most effective way in online mode with all kind of supports and cooperation from concerned authority and government. Right to education being a fundamental right has to be protected enforced , in order to ensure wellbeing and success of country.


Author: Shyma Habeeb from School of Indian Legal Thought, MG University.


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