EDUCATION: RIGHT FOR ALL OR PRIVILEGE TO FEW?

Vanita Singh

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”

  • ALLAN BLOOM

INTRODUCTION

The introduction of the Constitution (Eighty Sixth) amendment Act, 2002 introduced Article 21A, substituted Article 45 and amended Article 51A has made an attempt to herald a new era of an educated and developed India. The cumulative effect of these constitutional provisions is that the state is duty bound to provide free and compulsory education to all children between 6 to 14 years of age and to take endeavour to provide early childhood care and education to children below 6 years of age. It is the duty of parents/guardians to provide education to his child/ward between the age of 6-14 years. In pursuance of its obligations the state enacted The Right to Education Act, 2009 with the objective of providing free and compulsory education to all children between 6-14 years of age. But the situation even with these mandates and rights is rather grim and advent of COVID-19 has made it grimmer.

‘A’ FACTOR TO EDUCATION

Educating a person will not only improve the life of the person and his family but will improve the lives of  his coming generations which will further develop the human resource of India. We were still in the age of conventional chalk and duster approach of study before this new pandemic called as COVID-19 virus has knocked our doors and completely turned the education sector topsy-turvy. And thus, we embark upon the journey from ‘chalk-duster’ to ‘laptop/smartphones-good internet connectivity’. The new virus has introduced us to newer challenges both at individual and mass level. What was once considered as luxury became necessity overnight.

Around two-thirds of people in India live in poverty which makeslaptops/smartphones with internet a hindrance to avail to ourselves what is rightfully ours. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the education very badly where the students were unable to enjoy their right to education in letters and spirit. The major problem is the accessibility to education. The classroom pedagogy of teaching needs the teacher and the students but the shift to virtual classroom needs the electronic devices along with great speed internet facility. There still are families and children who dream to be educated so that their social status can be uplifted. The want of such infrastructure forces many children to compromise on their lives at micro-level and of the nation at macro-level. The problem becomes even more grave when many people be it the lower class, middle class, urban poor, rural poor lost their jobs overnight and the little buds of the future steps into the shoes of bread winner, leaving behind the education accepting it as their fate.The right to education takes care of the nutrition and health needs of the children through mid-day meals but pandemic has disrupted the health and nutrition indices. State governments are actively taking part in making the required infrastructure available to students but few steps need to be taken as access to education is a right. The government must try to trace the school-going kids who are not active/present in schools and have left education due to the unexpected pandemic. This could be done by following the data available to the government through Adhaar cards.

The online mode of education has further downgraded the academic quality. Students need teacher’s attention to be attentive but it becomes difficult through virtual screen when teachers are unable to see the students. The environment at home is also not conducive as the child is still under his comfort zone. The instances of cheating, copying and plagiarism has become the new uncommon with students not even showing the sign of remorse. What is needed is the attitude and outlook shift. While the order of teachers to switch on the video cameras is taken as the infringement to privacy, parents must understand that it is for the betterment of their wards so that they may not lose interest and concentration. Furthermore, teachers could assess the level of understanding, child developed in a class, so that if there is some gaps, he/she could take efforts to correct them. We must understand that the situation is not normal thus, steps beyond normal needs to be taken so that education reaches every nook and corner.

CONCLUSION

While COVID-19 is an unexpected-unwelcomed guest arrived in the early march 2020 and stayed for long, it has managed to damage various sectors, education being the most damaged. This brings us to the question whether education is a right to all or privilege to few. The answer is absolutely clear, development is our right and so is education as latter is the means to achieve former. Education is as much the right of underprivileged as is that of privliged.

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