Proposal of Online Education: Its impact positively and negatively
North East Dialogue Forum (NEDF)

 North East Dialogue Forum NEDF Logo

The Union Government has announced that it will need to focus on online education to revamp the challenges of education amidst the COVID crisis in India. At this juncture, NEDF (North East Dialogue Forum) an umbrella organization of several NGOs, CSOs, and POs (people organizations) takes on this serious issue of Online Education and its Pros and cons of the new system.

NEDF provides strategic recommendations to overcome the challenges including the budget for education. Below is the document detailing the strategy addressing to the MPs of North East, Chief Ministers, Education Ministers, and Union Minister of Education .

This attached brief notes on the merits and/ demerits of online education and are there alternatives to existing of education other than online education. This will require a given time frame say, seven months minimum from now for readiness to open schools for formal education.

North East Dialogue Forum

Subject: Request for urgent attention on the proposal of Online Education, Its impact positively and negatively.

Owing to the overwhelming presence and amoebic spread of the global pandemic, corona virus or COVID-19, many of the prevailing existing systems on ways of living have been curtailed, stopped, or recast with the hope that it will lead to improvement for a better way of life with hope for a positive future. And this includes education, i.e. the Union Government has announced that it will need to focus on online education. Therefore, this brief note on the merits and/ demerits of online education and are there alternatives to existing of education other than online education.

1. Meaning of Education: “schooling, teaching, instruction, tuition, coaching, training, tutelage, drilling, disciplining, priming, informing, indoctrination, inculcation, enlightenment, edification, cultivation, development, improvement, preparation, rearing, nurturing, fostering.” (The Concise Oxford Thesaurus, 2002, p. 233)

“Education means four things as illumination, as an agency of improvement, as physical development and as not merely book learning. … It is physical training, intellectual training, … moral deportment and good manners.”

2. Objective of Education:

“According to the school of Indian philosophy, the aim of education is the attainment of liberation… is the development of human personality… It is fulfilling social obligations and then achieves salvation. It also aims at strengthening its society.”

Have we missed the birds for the bees?

o When a child is sent to school, what are the motives for doing so ? Is it to be like the Jones’s - learned ? Know how to read and write? to be free from child’s haggling for a few hours of the day ?

o As they climb the stairs of learning, aren’t we, as parents, proud that our baby/prince charming is better than the others ? Aren’t we proud and expand our chests when the teacher praises our idol on how he/she is sociable, attentive, studious, discipline, absorbs the instructions imparted and so on comparing to other pupils/students ?

o As the grade of studies goes up and up and become harder or tougher and demanding, what is the child’s attitude ? Is he/she responding willingly or grudgingly or reacts negatively by way of attitude towards the family since he/she cannot yet show his/her dissent or rebellion but there could be grumbling to too much homework/assignment, no time to relax, no time to mix with friends/ peer group off school hours.

o When the 11th hour of schooling arrives, what does he/she wants to do - proceed to higher studies or seek a job career or takes up apprenticeship in family business or exists aimlessly ?

o If it’s to be a job, does the schooling with its syllabus/curriculum fits in with what he/she is about to plunge him/herself in ? Will he/she float and swim to the other side or drown instead ?

These are just a few questions that keeps coming to mind with regard to existing formal education system and motives.

Nevertheless, there are positives and to mention just a few, they are :

o It helps to acquire knowledge beyond the home compound and more as age increases and compartments in the brain cell, retrieve, store and systematically compile them for future use;

o Character is molded through mentoring process;

o Rights and wrongs are diagnosed for selection and rejection with the help of the mentor;

o A methodical and logical mind is developed through years of knowledge acquisition;

o An introvert becomes open to social relationships and widens his/her horizon of understanding and accommodating interdependence while the extrovert comes to accept limitations and spirit of co-operation which extends to the animal world and the forces of nature.

o Fairness, hypocrisy and limitations of his/her mentor is registered and could be exploited if not given proper direction and comprehension of human frailty.

Would online education meet the aforementioned though it has its limitations ?

o Would the quality of course content be excellent and of the highest standard ?

o There would be technical issues because of lack of high bandwidth, weak internet service and not being able to afford having modern efficient equipment’s and should the student be tech savvy ?

o Adaptability struggle of the student from a formal traditional classroom and being directly engaged with educator/teacher/instructor to a totally different environment of learning will be there initially and can it be overcome ?

o Poor communication without having the opportunity for a face-to-face chatting/discussion with the tutor and students can’t ask questions.

o There is the feeling of isolation which include the feelings of inadequacy and insecurity as time progresses resulting in lack of confidence in himself/herself and which could become a psychological issue and result in mental depression. What is the healing remedy?

o Those who have through years experienced online education, have found “online learning requires increased time-management skills and focus” and that people over 50 years of age, appear to have more discipline and motivation to complete course while it could be negative experience for younger students.

o Credibility issue whereby it has been found that “online instructors don’t take their lesson preparations as seriously as they could, and this lack of commitment… has a profound and negative effect on the quality of online learning.” Will there be a monitoring committee/board?

Effects of radiation:

“It is now a well-studied and accepted fact that long term and excessive exposure to radiation will produce negative biological and health effects in humans.” (Christian Thomas, Wi-Fi Radiation --- Everything You Need To Know. This includes interruption of the brain glucose metabolism, increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier, interruption of cell metabolism, breaks in DNA chains as also fatigue, trouble sleeping, tinnitus, brain fog, chest pain and heart palpitations, skin reactions and others. Further, it is more acute on those aged 18 and below, i.e. School going age.

One may say that online education is within a given and limited time frame per day but who monitors when there isn’t human or person-to-person contact. It is stretchable and flexible timings unless disciplined and uniformed class timings is imposed and ensured. However, who will be guarantor of such an undertaking? Parents? But it is impracticable and debatable.

Is it affordable for all?

Supposing that every part of India has reliable internet service connection, but can every family having school going children afford to have desktop or laptop though desktop is much more preferable for keeping distance and mobiles are not advisable for growing children since they become addicted to it and radiation will be much higher due to very close distance. Yet not everyone can afford to purchase mobile phones. Obviously, it produces inequity.

Therefore, our submission is not to revert to online education.

Instead, may we suggest that the Union Government double if not treble its Budget for Education from 3 % to 6 % or better still to 9 % to

o Provide two school buildings instead of one since pupils/students will have to be reduced by half the number so as to adhere to social/physical distancing with many sections/streams for one grade/class;

o Reduce the teacher student ratio by 1 : 20;

o Recruit double the existing required number of teachers with crash course training on education;

o Provide financial assistance to private schools to accordingly enhance appointment of more teachers and construct more school buildings.

This will require a given time frame say, seven months minimum from now for readiness to open schools for formal education.

Thank you for your time and patience.

Humbly submitted

(Dr. P. B. M. Basaiawmoit)
North East Dialogue Forum

* This information is sent to by Kshetrimayum Onil who can be contacted at onilrights(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This Post is webcasted on July 28 2020

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