Guest post by MAYA JOHN
Given the rampant social and economic inequalities in our society, education has been seen by majority of the common masses as a tool for moving up the social ladder. Their aspirations for higher segment jobs and status constitute the largest component of the growing demand for higher education.Nevertheless, the opinion of the dominant classes that the state cannot pay for the education of all has come to enjoy hegemonic status, resulting in the lack of adequate development of educational infrastructure to meet the rapidly growing demand.In response to the widening gap between the demand and supply for education, successive governments have pushed through measures that allow for greater penetration of private capital in higher education, and its corollary, the persistent decline in per capita government allocation of funds towards education. Consequently, private colleges and universities have mushroomed across the country. Likewise,the expansion of the open and distance learning (ODL) mode and mainstreaming of e-learning have been consistently projected by policy makers as credible alternative routes to accessing higher education when higher educational institutions (HEIs) are not within reasonable distance, or when students do not have the marks or financial condition to enroll in formal education.
Continue reading Online Education, the Latest Stage of Educational Apartheid: Maya John
Guest post by MAYA JOHN
Under the condition of lockdown while we are confronted with images and accounts of the suffering of the labouring poor, and all around us there appears to be a pervasive social chaos, in our universities students and teachers are supposed to return to an atomized life condition, and essentially pursue academic work as if all is normal. Teachers and students are expected to simply ignore wider public responsibilities and recoil to their private window to online teaching-learning. The diktats of university bureaucracies that have been issued in the midst of tremendous socio-economic crisis reduce teachers to a role akin to those of musicians who continued to entertain on the sinking Titanic. Now, after the formalities of so-called online education have been fulfilled, a specter of online examinations haunts the wider student community.
Disappearance of education in the online mode
The pronouncements of Delhi University (DU) regarding online examinations for its final year students of undergraduate and postgraduate (Masters) courses, have added to the anxieties of large number of students and teachers, who have been grappling with a disrupted semester in the wake of the lockdown, and the stupendous challenges of online teaching-learning. More or less, institutions of higher education across the country are facing this predicament. The grim situation warrants a close scrutiny of the concerns of teachers and students about e-learning and online examinations.
Continue reading Fears and Furies of Online (Mis)education – Lockdown and Beyond: Maya John
Guest post by AYESHA KIDWAI
The recommendations of the UGC panels are circulating on WhatsApp (See Appendix at the end of this article). If these are indeed what is going to be presented at the full UGC meeting, then there is no doubt in my mind that the pandemic is a pretext to get rid of the university altogether, to move it notionally online, to make education the tool for surveillance, and to change the way that all educational institutions function. If the recommendations are accepted, then 25% of the syllabus in any course henceforth will have to be completed online, all universities will have to form virtual classrooms, through an MHRD dedicated portal, develop e-learning syllabi, and change their degrees. What this will mean for academic jobs henceforth is obvious, but what it will entail for the content of education is far worse.
Continue reading The Pandemic as pretext – Murdering the university in India: Ayesha Kidwai