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Letter From the Editor

EducationWorld August 2021 | Letter from the Editor

By any yardstick the novel Coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan China in late 2019, and has infected over 200 million individuals worldwide and inflicted 4.2 million fatalities — including 31 million and 427,000 in India, i.e, Bharat — has taken a grim toll of lives and livelihoods. The evidence that it has severely damaged the Indian economy which was already losing momentum prior to December 2019, is accumulating and fast becoming overwhelming. It’s now official that the economy (GDP) contracted by 8 percent in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2021. Since then it is limping back to normal and is forecast to grow by 9-10 percent this year on a lower base. This means GDP in 2021-22 will be on a par with 2019-20.

In particular the future looks grim for the world’s largest child and youth population struggling to realise its potential in a backward society, ignorant of the critical importance of human capital development.

The fact that schools, colleges and universities in India have been shuttered for almost 60 weeks — the longest education freeze of any country worldwide — is proof enough of the low importance accorded to education, i.e, human capital development, by the Central and state governments and society in general. Admittedly, in the interests of child safety, caution should be the watchword on the issue of reopening schools and education institutions. But caution has to be balanced against the hugely damaging consequences of children’s loss of learning and in the long run, of respectable livelihoods and national productivity. Especially since available medical evidence indicates that children are less vulnerable to the dread virus than adults.

That’s why schools were quickly reopened in most countries after initial panic. Last month EducationWorld presented an unprecedented media report on this issue titled ‘Why Schools Should Reopen Right Now’ (EW July). Nevertheless despite the Centre having belatedly devolved this decision upon state governments, dithering on this issue continues. Apart from Punjab no state government has decreed reopening of school campuses.

Meanwhile as government vacillates, institutional leaders have been left to their own devices to devise ways and means to maintain learning continuity of students. A minority of the most dynamic and innovative have successfully switched to new digital technologies to provide online classes and learning. But there are many shades and permutations and combinations of online education. In this Independence Day issue we present a selection of institutional leaders — eduleaders — who have formulated creative responses to the Covid-19 tsunami to sustain continuous learning for children under their care.

Your editors wish readers a happy Independence Day with a call to all stakeholders in education to put their shoulders to the wheel to aid and enable the faltering national development effort. Meanwhile advice to the Central and state governments: Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

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