Widening digital divide

EducationWorld February 2021 | Mailbox

Congratulations for your well-researched cover story ‘Future of learning in post-pandemic era’ (EW January). Your views resonated with me. The closure of education institutions for over nine months has certainly forced change-averse schools to adopt new tech-driven teaching-learning systems. But it has also highlighted and exacerbated prevailing inequalities in Indian education.

While a few hundred top-ranked private schools have done a stellar job of providing online learning continuity to their students, the majority of students in government schools in urban and especially rural India, have not had access to any learning for lack of digital connectivity. This will result in huge learning and achievement gaps between the haves and have-nots.

In the post-pandemic era when blended learning is set to become the new normal, it’s imperative that the Central and state governments make adequate budgetary provision for delivering e-learning to under-privileged children. I hope and pray that the Union Budget 2020-21 will include a post-pandemic recovery package for Indian education.

Moreover, the government can also provide incentives to edtech companies to deliver digital learning programmes at subsidised prices to poor children. The #1 priority of the Union education ministry should be to address the urban-rural education divide that the Covid-19 pandemic has further widened.

Biju Dasgupta
Kolkata

Nursery admission anxiety

I am a Delhi-based mother planning my child’s admission into nursery class this year. Your education news ‘Nursery admissions anxiety’ (EW January) has made me doubly anxious as there is no clarity in the national capital about admissions into nursery sections of composite schools.

If nursery admissions are cancelled this year because of the pandemic, my four-year-old will be unprepared to cope with the pressure of direct admission into kindergarten next year. Losing a year will affect his cognitive and socio-emotional development and it will be difficult to compensate the learning loss.

I request the government to rethink its nursery admissions strategy and decide speedily, so that children begin receiving professional early childhood care and education.

Supriya Mukherjee on email

Words of praise

I enjoyed reading your cover story ‘Future of learning in post-pandemic era’ (EW January). It’s indeed creditable, the alacrity with which the country’s teachers/educators have embraced digital learning tools to ensure learning continuity of children. Also the past year has seen a shift in parents’ mindsets towards online learning as they witness its efficacy and benefits. More so, it’s commendable how children have bravely risen to the challenge of online learning and adapted to this new reality.

It’s also heartening to learn that the country’s IITs and engineering colleges are producing enterprising graduates who are promoting innovative edtech start-ups.

My sincere compliments for this well-rounded and informative cover feature!

Mehak Chopra
Gurugram

Revamp police education

Thanks for an insightful special report on the state of police education in India (EW January). The public image of our police is of inefficient, corrupt and unsympathetic personnel intimidating citizens. Most people don’t trust the police which is why many crimes go unreported.

As the author Dilip Bobb writes, the root of this problem is in the poor quality education and training provided to policemen, especially constables. The government needs to urgently revamp curriculums to include latest crime detection techniques, digital and cyber literacy and most importantly soft skills training.

Police personnel need to be taught to be polite, humane and empathetic to victims of crime, especially women and children. This should be accompanied with improved work conditions of policemen many of whom have long hours of duty.

I hope your honest and timely critique will be a wake-up call for government to restructure and improve policing education and training standards in India.

Vikram Godbole
Pune

Corrigendum

In the Library & Reading Culture parameter of the EW Grand Jury India School Rankings 2020-21 (EW January), Delhi Public School, Greater Faridabad has been inadvertently ranked #2 in Uttar Pradesh state instead of #1 in Haryana. This error is regretted — Editor

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