With the global pandemic Covid-19 forcing several sectors to undertake several fundamental changes, the educational sector in India is divided over imparting online education as a routine for children. While it is a fact that online education can never be an effective replacement for classroom teaching, visionary educational institutions like Bengaluru-based Ekya, are leveraging technology to undertake capacity building of students to prepare them to be future ready.
Dr Trishta Ramamurthy, Founder and Managing Director of Ekya Schools and Vice President of CMR Group of Institutions, says, "Since inception, Ekya's mission has been to provide technology-rich and immersive learning experiences for our children. Today, our mission becomes even more relevant in the present context. We are engaging students beyond routine school curriculum through online teaching. We are enabling our students to be prepared for any scenarios that this pandemic may bring in the coming days."
Ekya School has been conducting virtual classes as well as imparting life skills through online lessons. "The future is here. We have always been guided by our commitment and passion to prepare our children to become change-makers creating positive social change. The world we see as today is in for a major change and we must adapt to changes," Trishta emphasised.
As parents, students, and teachers around the world adapt to the new reality, there is resistance to online education methods. Even though opinions may differ on the merits and the demerits of online education, there is also a dire need to overcome issues concerning safety and health of children while implementing social distancing guidelines in the wake of the pandemic.
Even as confusion exists among states and policy makers on online education model, there is a need to identify a way forward, as the pandemic's impact will be long lasting. Under the prevailing circumstances, suspension of online teaching is not an ideal situation for the education sector. Ekya School model of teaching is the best guide for the policy makers and the institution is of the view that a national consensus is required on online education model.
The crisis has demonstrated that technology is the game-changer, be it discovering vaccines, working from home, contactless technology, remote support or ensuring smooth supply chain. Similarly, technology plays an extremely important role today in the education sector.
"In a rapidly changing world, our children need a learning experience that prepares them for the future," pointed out Trishta. Incidentally, many parents at Ekya are pleased with the method of teaching and the progress achieved by their children. Children as young as 6 years are now comfortable with online tools and safe in their homes.
One parent of Ekya School student wrote to the school saying "It is really amazing to see classes in action. Moreover, I feel kids are showing such discipline and professionalism. Kindly let our teachers know that it is empowering to see the kids adapting this new way of interactive learning and sharing." There are countless other parents out there who feel in a similar manner.
The Union government has been encouraging digital and online education with the announcement of TV channels. The National Education Union – the UK's largest teaching union – which has opposed a wider opening of schools, has called for a "national plan". It said this should include "blended learning" mixing school and internet-based teaching. There is a need for a debate, decision and a national recovery plan for education in India.