Experts batting for reopening of schools questioned the Centre’s move to set up TV channels for providing supplementary education to students of classes 1 to 12, and claimed it will not compensate for the learning loss caused during the Covid pandemic.
Presenting the Union Budget 2022-23, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman acknowledged that due to the pandemic-induced closure of schools, children, particularly in the rural areas, and those from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and other weaker sections, have lost almost two years of formal education.
The government has proposed the expansion of the ‘one class-one TV channel’ programme through 200 channels for providing supplementary education in regional languages in schools for classes 1 to 12.
“Learning loss of two years to be compensated by setting up TV channels, really????? It shows that we are not serious about loss of learning of our children. Open the schools and get children back for in-person learning. Invest in school education,” tweeted Chandrakant Lahariya, an epidemiologist and public policy specialist who has been vocal against prolonged school closures.
Centre for Policy Research president Yamini Aiyar tweeted, “Kudos to Finance Minister for recognising loss from two years of school closure but really one class-one TV, e-content is NOT the answer. Opening schools in the and (sic). Are we so blind to realities on the ground?”
The overall financial allocation for the education sector for 2022-23 has increased to Rs 1.04 lakh crore from Rs 93,224 crore (Budget estimate) in 2021-22 as the minister laid emphasis on digital modes of education to reverse learning losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The revised estimate for 2021-22 is Rs 88,001 crore.
A digital university to be built on the ‘hub-and-spoke’ model and expansion of ‘one class-one TV channel’ programme through 200 channels for providing supplementary education in regional languages in schools are among the major initiatives in the education sector proposed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech on Tuesday.
“A major thrust of the budget this year is towards digitalisation of higher education and it’s a matter of serious concern. The announcement of digital university and PM e-vidya scheme will merely give a statistical uplift to GER without increasing public spending on education. With huge digital divide and resource and gadget-deficient families in India, there is a need for more schools and higher education institutions on the ground than in the cyber-space,” Academics for Action and Development (AAD), a group of Delhi University teachers, said in a statement.
“The idea of replacing human teachers with digital teachers in digital university is not appropriate for India, where huge diversity among students needs different explanations for better understanding. Secondly, this will inflict job cuts, whereas huge number of eligible and NET-qualified aspirants are looking for teaching jobs,” it added.