Schools have been at the heart of human development, enabling evolution of modern and smart cities, transitioning from farm based economy to knowledge society.
There are positives and negatives about such a transformation, particularly when it happens in a relative shorter period of about 20 years.
With the COVID pandemic outburst, Schools shutdown, and teaching-learning processes moved online and the systems started to align with newer pedagogies.
When schools have struggled to weather the storm, with unused infrastructure and having to invest in Technology or increased spend in moving to using Education technology, We hear a lot about teachers getting laid off, salary cuts, unpaid salaries. That has left a large pool of teachers unemployed. Additionally they have had to retrain to align with new paradigm of education that is strongly technology dependant. Preparing for Education in the New Normal.
When the COVID times are over, the same schools have to attract teachers back, if these schools have to continue delivering education.
Once can understand the dilemma of most schools. Their only revenue is Fee collection. I am referring to schools that are ethical & transparent. The teacher salaries and other expenses and overheads have to be incurred irrespective of the revenue.
The Ministry and the Govt departments of Primary & Secondary Education imposes fee restrictions to ensure that the parents can afford continuing to educate the children, albeit online.
Some parents refuse to pay fee, postpone fee payment. That’s okay because parents have also come under economic pressures, may be reduced incomes, lost jobs, Pay cuts etc. Since online learning is prevalent now, They have provide their children laptops/devices and stable internet connection. That is an additional investment. This puts additional financial pressure on the parents.
Every child in this country has the Right to Education, and it cannot be denied, as it is a fundamental right.
So, My question is who will give way?
To make the Private school Education survive? The NEP mentions that Private schools should be run by Philanthropic organisations. The NEP also outlines all the good ideas and Best practices that ought to be followed, which will mean additional investment, training and retraining of teachers. It is recommended that every such Private un-aided school is paired with a Rural or semi-urban government schools that are deprived of basic facilities and teachers. While many socially responsible schools already do it, I am not sure if all schools have the ability to do this?
The NEP also talk about gender Equality. Yes, very much needed. In urban societies the goal of achieving gender equality has progressed a lot. “Educating the Girl Child” project has also made positive impact.
Let us shift focus to underprivileged areas, villages, Hamlets, Tribal areas. The social problems of Female foeticide, child marriages, early marriages, and many such issues of the social underpinnings of certain less fortunate parts of our socio-economic fabric. The NEP2020, which is about inclusivity and Universalisation of school education, and the “No child left behind” policy, are all goals and societal aspirations that we will have to meet.
While I am very optimistic about the National Education Policy, and makes a great reading. It is fantastic work, and a great collection of best practices that should be implemented. I believe it will never be easy at all. The plan is very well researched and comprehensive.The first time I have seen a policy accompanied by timelines.
Who will fund this? Will the Government fund it or encourage a PPP model (complicated), or is it fend for yourselves?
I hope there will be more details and announcements that will come forth to clear the grey areas. Let us look forward with …….A little bit of Optimism!