With government’s aggressive push on digitalization in education, there is risk of a different kind whereby policy makers and administrators may set onto a different path. Schools, teachers and classrooms, facing a neglect already, will be further pushed to margins and a time will come when some people will demand scrapping these altogether.
Socialization must have been the most progressive and critical factor in human evolution and quest for advancement through inventions, technology development and various arts, would be a response to it. The digital connectivity may be an offshoot of the very same process and if it creates physical distances between people, it can still be considered progressive. However, when it comes to the formative years when impressions are created for life in young minds, things can turn not only regressive but potentially volatile in future.
Schools, classrooms and playgrounds are places of peer interaction and learning for life. Teachers are a medium of facilitating this learning and importantly they are human with emotions. No virtual technology can perhaps can match the socialization that actual places and people can achieve.
In context of Indian society, which is diverse in several ways starting from economic classification to caste, languages, cultures, religion and regions, etc, schools have played a pivotal role in harmonizing it. Schools have been the reason behind hearing national anthem or unfurling of national flag in a vast majority of villages. Schools and classrooms have been the places where patriotism has been nursed. These are the places where egalitarianism looks real and possible.
About half of the country’s 1.30 billion population is young and already a trend of violent behavior and juvenile crimes is making everybody jittery and if it adds more proportion, then we may have to look for costly solutions in times to come. Instead of rehab centres and widespread drug trafficking network, the country should look at mitigation measure to prevent the ‘youth’ disaster.
Schools more so in government sector in majority of states are in a state of inertia and neglect. A few policy measures can set them right quickly. Like if schools are declared national assets, government priorities may change accordingly and these will become true gurukuls of a new India.