The paradigm shift from in-person class to sitting behind the digital screens has affected everyone
The Covid-19 shook and surprised the entire globe. The world was not prepared for anything of this magnitude. Every aspect of life got disturbed, be it business, travel, education or social life. When the first wave of pandemic slowed down and the economy gradually started opening, the education sector did not really take off for various reasons. Post lockdown, the major focus was on normalising the key economic areas such as businesses, jobs, and transport, so that life could come back on the right track. The idea of bringing the education sector back to the pre-Covid level had few takers. Many people in fact wanted the education sector to be closed and they were cautious about the safety of the students. A section of the influential class, including parents, considers the education sector as just a means of teaching and training the student, which it argues is secondary to safety and can wait. They fail to realise that the education sector is also an important economic wing. The livelihood of the teachers and the support staff, and other vendors depends on the education sector.
Now that the second wave is going on and the third wave is being said to be inevitable, the opening of the education sector is out of immediate discussion. This makes it tougher for those who are directly or indirectly dependent on the sector for their survival. The void is widening which is damaging the foundation and unsettling the existing ecosystem. The education sector needs to take necessary actions to keep itself afloat and relevant for the changing times. Let’s examine what is the best way forward for the education sector in the turbulent times of Covid-19.
Organise the Online Education
The internet has helped various sectors survive tough times. The education sector is one of them. Initially, online education was seen as a short-term alternative for on-premises education. Most educational institutes used it as a means of keeping the students in touch with the studies. But as the current scenario has turned out, online teaching might become the primary means of education. When the first lockdown due to Covid-19 happened, most schools were unprepared for this. They hurriedly applied whatever means they had just to provide online education. Most teachers had no previous experience of providing teaching online. On the other hand, parents and students also had no clue about how online education would be carried out and what to expect. Due to all these factors, online education didn’t really serve the purpose.
Now that online education appears to be the long-term solution for the ongoing disturbance, the education sector needs to organise it properly. Educational institutes need to invest in proper infrastructure for online education. Teachers need to be given proper training for teaching online. The parents and the students need to be convinced that online teaching is going to be the primary form of education for some time and it needs to be taken sincerely. Efforts of a single school, college, or university won’t be able to do this. The entire education sector along with the government authorities need to combine their efforts to achieve this.
Modify Curriculums to Suit Online Education
School curriculums might also need few modifications to suit online education. The education sector needs to brainstorm and devise the best curriculums for this. India can learn from international experience and adopt the best methods from other countries while formulating the courses best suited for online education. Similarly, evaluation systems also need to be revisited.
Make Preparations for the Future
Like every other pandemic or disruption, the Covid-19 pandemic is also bound to end sooner or later. The education sector should utilise the current lean period for preparations for the time when schools, colleges, and other educational institutes will reopen for on-premises education and training. Investing in modern infrastructure and preparation for any future is necessary. This preparation will be instrumental for the education system to normalise as soon as the Covid-19 situation improves.
New-Age Financial Solutions for Continuous Education
While ensuring the systems like online education, modification in curriculum, enhancing infrastructure, the need of the hour is also to come up with new-age financial solutions for the stakeholders of the education sector. Till now, education loans are the only solution that one can think about, in order to finance the education of his ward but when it comes to K12 education there is no such financial support. Therefore, models like fee financing should be adopted across the sector, and awareness about it must be spread so that every parent can dream of providing quality education to their kids without the burden of any additional cost as in the case of education loan.
Upgrade the Skills of Teachers and Training Staff
Online teaching requires a modern-day setup and technical know-how to operate. While this looks easier for the students and young teachers as they are born in the digital age and are accustomed to such tools but for teachers and trainers who apparently are in the twilight of their career, it is a challenging task. The education industry can not simply upgrade them overnight, so, a bridge program needs to be created for optimum utilisation of their experience for building a robust education ecosystem.
The Covid-19 has caused serious disruption in the normal functioning of the education system. The second wave of the pandemic and the prediction of the third wave have indicated that this disturbance is here to stay longer. The education system cannot wait for the pandemic to be over. It needs to reinvent itself to continue its services to society and the nation. Besides continual education, it is also imperative for the survival of millions of people dependent on the sector.
The author is Founder & CEO, Financepeer
DISCLAIMER: Views expressed are the author's own, and Outlook Money does not necessarily subscribe to them. Outlook Money shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.