With our lives going online more than ever, the digital world became a central idea.
With online yoga classes to online school classes, everything is taking place with just sitting behind a screen. Payments and education have become easier with people sitting within the confines of their home and changing things with just a press of a button. As life came to a halt because of the pandemic, the online mode to almost everything made it easier. Our grandparents who would never use WhatsApp chose to make it a part of their everyday routine. Families came closer with binge-watching series and movies together over Netflix/Prime.
But all is not rosy at the end of the day. With colleges and schools shut due to the health emergency, the only alternative to continue classes was shifting it to an online mode. While it is the only viable option considering the situation, however, it is a burden more than a convenience. Online Education is a system of luxury and privilege. It’s inclusive nature and demands are not receptive with all sections of the population. Especially at the university level, where students belong to different groups and communities and parts of the country; there are students who do not have a luxurious laptop or high-speed wifi connection. The internet in Kashmir is always bordered with uncertainty. The connections are not very strong and not everybody has the finances to install modems for the connection. Tribal areas and villages in the interiors also face similar issues. The fact that education is slowly becoming a luxury speaks volumes about where we as a country are headed.
The inclusive nature of online education is largely ignored by administrative bodies and even student unions. The students of Delhi University have been protesting to make online classes inclusive for every individual in some manner but their demands have not been met. The DUSU has also turned a blind eye. The graduating batch of 2020 of Delhi University wrote their examinations virtually amidst a global pandemic. There were multiple delays and tardiness at the end of the administration but they still chose to conduct the examinations through website lags and crashes.
The school going students especially the junior classes, whose lives involved a lot of activities were all negated because of the pandemic. The increased screen time for young individuals has both psychological as well as physiological effects. The strain on the eyes causes weak eyesight, dry and watery eyes. The mental exhaustion is worse than physical exhaustion. The retention capacity and concentration is reduced as against normal physical classes.
The students are overworked because neither there is any reduction in the syllabus nor the duration of the lectures. The uncertainty in the world and mental health are major causes of problems. In Assam, according to the police, a student of Class 10, who came from a very poor family, was troubled as he could not take part in online classes and examinations conducted by his school and died of suicide. In Kerela, a class 9 student allegedly commits suicide in Malapuram, police says she was unable to attend online classes and was worried about managing studies. U Abdul Kareem, SP Mallapuram says, "The family is not financially sound and we are probing further". (Source: ANI)
Even teachers face similar issues in dealing with technology. Older faculty members are anxious about their teaching style as it is the first time for them too. They are constantly under the pressure to start, launch and record classes as well as deliver a proper and detailed lecture.
Lives may have gone digital but it is important to acknowledge the fallacies that come with it. With no hope of educational institutions opening up in the near future, there must be possible solutions to make online classes a better experience. The inclusive nature of education is unfair and unjust. Education should be for all with proper resources.