The coronavirus outbreak has made a big full stop on everybody’s life all over the world. It’s been more than six months that everything is closed. However, the market is suffering a lot in this outbreak. But one more community that is suffering is the Student community. Even there, life has had a significant setback due to this outbreak. COVID-19 has brought a massive change in the education system not only in India but in other countries as well. There is a shift from classroom education to virtual education. It is essential to understand what Virtual Education is?
It is a distance learning organized in a virtual world with the use of different tools and apps. Mainly, learning from sitting at home is what virtual education is all about. Virtual education has online teaching and tutoring. It helps students to learn things at their own pace.
COVID-19 has impacted more than 32 crore students in India. Ministry of Home Affairs had issued guidelines on April 15, 2020, regarding the procedure to be followed during the period of lockdown. Schools and institutions have been directed by the ministry to teach students through online mediums as of now. However, the decision is made to stop the spread of the virus, and the students won’t have to suffer. But this policy has deprived many students of getting an education.
Right to education and impact of Virtual Learning on it.
Article 21 A of the Indian Constitution says that every child by birth has the right to get an education. Nobody can stop the child from exercising his freedom. Our constitution goes way far than the Right to Education. It ensures that all the children must be given equal access. In the case of Unnikrishnan J.P. v. State of Andhra Pradesh, it was held by the Supreme Court that without education, there is no sign of Right to Life.
Indian has a massive population, and students are left with no other option but to learn online. It is a significant hurdle in exercising the Right to Education. Students living in metropolitan cities have easy access to all such resources, whereas the ones living in rural areas are facing much of a difficulty. This gap between people who have access and who doesn’t is known as the Digital Divide.
Digital Divide has its impact on the Right to Education policy. The most likely to be impacted by the COVID situation and virtual learning are the children of migrant workers and students living in rural areas. Many people who have lost their jobs are not given the complete salary, and virtual education has added up to their expense. Like most other countries, India is also ill-equipped to deal with sudden situations. However, for the children of rural areas and those who do not have access to the internet, few measures have been notified. These include broadcasting of educational content through Doordarshan and All India Radio. But even these medium have their drawbacks. Also, the range provides through such medium is way too less than what a person used to get in the classroom learning.
In Faheema Shirin R.K. v. State of Kerala and Ors, the High Court of Kerala stated that access to the internet is a part of the Right to Education under Article 21 A.
Nonetheless, the “Digital India” campaign is still a distant dream for half of the population. The measures for the specially-abled are yet to be taken.