illustration by Hasan Zaidi
illustration by Hasan Zaidi
FP Photo

India has always been a pioneer in the concept of education with practical training and in-person schooling. This can be cited back to an ancient education system, where students attended Gurukuls - a complete residential school system.

Further, the concept of day scholars evolved with the influence of the British education system. Now, with lockdown, an evolving concept of virtual and distance education system has taken a boost.

The question arises whether the future of the education system is virtual or distance education. There are clear benefits of switching over to a virtual education system despite the initial hiccups of discipline. Here is a complete view of education today and how it can evolve in the coming future in Indore, the education hub.

Virtual education to build independent students

“In the current scenario, virtual classes are must and based on the current situation, it seems that a part of education will be given through virtual classes for this academic year at least,” Reena Khurana, chairperson of Indore Sahodaya School Complex of CBSE schools said.

She explained that the education system is bound to experience a change due to this switch. “We can learn from the example of Finland, where the education system is limited , with students attending school for 106 days in a year,” Reena said. Students are required to attend school in Finland for 4 hours in a day, she said.

“Usually, a teacher sends videos and texts, which are discussed in the classes, allowing students to learn and research before the class,” Reena said. She felt the virtual education system with limited classes in schools will make students independent and better researchers.

Only 24% can access virtual education

“Virtual learning is essential and has enhanced access to education, but it is not a replacement for physical classes,” Jayeb Kar, CBSE helpline counsellor said. He explained that virtual learning is only a part of education, far from complete schooling and education.

“In Indore, only 24 per cent of parents have required equipment to access virtual classes, which fairly low and a clear indication that virtual classes cannot be the way to true learning alone,” Kar said. He added that even optimistically all over India, about 30 per cent of parents can access virtual learning properly.

“60 to 70 per cent parents cannot even access the virtual system, so it is not the future way of education,” Kar said. He added that virtual education only considers a part of education and fails in building social skills and other necessary skills in students.

Can’t learn tennis without a court

The concept of internationalism and distance learning has evolved tremendously over the last decade. “Education now means giving students enough exposure and allowing them to learn from the experience,” Siddharth Singh, principal of The Emerald Heights International School, said.

He elaborated that technological advances have already given students the world as their classroom. “Students learn from the internet all the time, whether it is for project-based assignments or churning the wheels of their curiosity,” Singh said.

However, he added that virtual learning is a part of the entire education, not complete schooling. “When in school, a child learns many other lessons like social skill development, sports and essentially by experience,” Singh said.

He also pointed out the demerits of virtual learning that he has come across in the past 1 month. “Students cannot focus as much, they can learn and exercise to prepare their body for sports in our sports classes, but without a tennis court, one cannot learn tennis,” Singh said.

Small percentage to try home-schooling

The education system is bound to see a change following virtual classes and it might be unexpected for many institutes. “Despite studying in renowned schools, most students attend coaching classes and tuitions, especially in high school and higher secondary schools,” Educationist and researcher Dr Ajit Upadhyaya said.

He added that a small percentage of students especially those in higher classes might consider home-schooling. “The shift is possible because it would give students enough time to study and prepare for their competitive examinations in coaching classes,” Upadhyaya said.

He elaborated that many have been doing so with dummy schools, but if students learn independent studying during this lockdown time, then home-schooling might be considered. “This will be a small percentage, where parents are actively involved with their kids and ready to teach at home as CBSE suggested,” Upadhyaya said.

Education apps to continue virtual learning

Going virtual, many schools have now formed their own applications to coordinate with students and parents. “Many local schools have developed their applications to send worksheets to students during lockdown which are mostly developed by young start-ups and even students,” Shawez Shaikh, IT start-up founder, said.

He added that many schools are reaching out to start-ups to find better ways to provide virtual learning resources to students. “Investing so much time in providing all the resources online to students, it is clear that online learning is bound to stay,” Shaikh said.

He added that virtual classes are also extending students of primary classes as well.

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