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The Post-Pandemic World Needs Better Public Schools

Context

The pandemic has thrown a harsh light on the vulnerabilities and challenges faced by the world in education. There is an immense learning gap due to existing inequalities.

Relevance

GS-II: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Dimensions of the Article

  • Need for Investment in Learning Systems
  • Viewing education through government school lens
  • Way Forward

Need for investment in learning systems

  • In India, we have to accept that unless we mobilise learning resources and institutions at the government level, the divides will continue to expand and learners will continue to fall between the cracks.
  • Systems have to be put into place to find a variety of methods to equip all learners — privileged, poor, middle-class and alternatively-abled.
  •  The challenge is about returning to school.
  • In wealthier nations, schools have always been the first to open and last to close and citizens have benefited from the public school system.
  • In India, across states, there is a sense of despair due to unemployment and lack of financial resources, which has snowballed due to the pandemic, resulting in greater inequality.
  • Sending children to school, as opposed to keeping them at home, is a huge financial investment, particularly in the private school system.
  • Parents have refrained from sending their children back to school due to a lack of funds.

Viewing education through government school lens

  • The big shift that we as a nation have to make is viewing education through a government school lens.
  • This will only take place if states provide the opportunity for free, compulsory, neighbourhood education.
  • Radical reforms have to be implemented to restructure government schools and ensure quality.
  • The government, both at the Centre and in the states, should build good-quality primary, middle and high schools and provide facilities that the best private schools have to offer.
  • Online learning is not the way forward: We are subsumed by the myth that technology has expanded potential.
  • The concern is that online learning will create greater inequality, not only in the global South but even in the most well-resourced corners of the planet.
  • Online learning is not the way forward.
  • The UNESCO’s International Commission on the Futures of Education states in its report, “the core commitments that should always be remembered are public education and common good”.
  • It says, “This is not the time to step back and weaken these principles but rather to affirm and reinforce them.”
  • We must take the opportunity to protect and advance public education.
  • We cannot allow the government health system and government education to be opposed to one another. Their synergies must overlap

Way Forward

Public education is crucial to societies, communities and individual lives. It is the only thing that will enable us to live with dignity and purpose.

Source – The Indian Express

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October 2022
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