Dr. D N S Kumar, a doctorate and an erudite scholar with an experience of 29 years, is currently serving as the Vice-Chancellor of Ansal University. Rendering his expertise to students, he has worked as a professor of finance and catered to young talent by mentoring and teaching them various subjects including Strategic Cost Management, Corporate Finance, Risk Management and Valuation of Companies. He is a Master Analyst in Financial Forensics and has pursued his specialisation in Valuation of Companies, Bankruptcy and Liquidation and Reorganisation.
According to a report of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India conducted a survey on higher education and observed that there are 993 universities, 39931 Colleges and 10725 Stand Alone Institutions listed on their portal, which contribute to education. These institutions further reflect the student density of India as the total enrolments in higher education every year are nearly 37.4 million, reflecting the expanding horizons of the education industry. The sector was seen catching pace by the passing day until Coronavirus impacted the country intensely.
The current pandemic is not only seen affecting the health of the citizens in the country but is also seen hindering various industries and shaking them to their roots. The national lockdown and the ascending health crisis were striking the education of the students as well, with their universities being shut and their syllabi stranded, until the industry decided to initiate a revolution instead. Reinventing their radicles and making a conscious choice to grow even in the time of crisis, the universities decided to digitalise the sector. The educational reform in India in the COVID-19 era seems to be a live example of how need truly is the mother of invention or reinvention, in this scenario. Allowing educational institutions to adopt online learning and infuse a virtual study culture, the pandemic is already steering the sector forward with technological innovation and advancements.
The switch to online education has been ensuring that students suffer no loss of studies and their progress is being tracked simultaneously with timely evaluation. It is probably a first for India to experiment with the education system and make a paradigm shift to the virtual world, blending classrooms with online learning. Alchemising education with technology and forming a collaborative strategy to tread ahead while providing online lectures will also enable the students to learn creatively. Boosting retention of the syllabus by using innovative technology, the universities are also engaging students to learn by choice and not just by their physical presence in a classroom. Furthermore, providing AI-enabled learning by universities as they offer diverse courses in association with other collaborations is only making the country envision a new tomorrow based on educational reforms. For instance, medical students can opt for interactive sessions to discuss specific case studies, engineering aspirants could delve into the depths of environmental engineering and city planning along with the mentors playing videos and conducting online moot sessions for law enthusiasts and much more.
In fact, some of the universities are also offering courses related to the fourth industrial revolution, which will stimulate the minds of the students and inspire them to bring a change in their respective fields. Gaining popularity worldwide, online education is nourishing a lot many inquisitive students, instead of giving in to the circumstances.
One of the opportunities to focus amidst the crisis is the virtual internships, which are allowing the students to go beyond their curriculum and learn about the practicality of their professions. Another value addition for the field of education and thus students is the way universities are encouraging them to observe the current scenario and understand the need to automate. This will further allow them to digitalise their fields in the near future along with preparing them for any such situations. This practice will instil more confidence than chaos or panic.
Apart from interactive and virtual learning, the universities are teaching much more than just syllabus. They are sensitising their faculty to tackle the situation wisely. Online support groups along with emotional help by lecturers are only strengthening the system. Educating the students simultaneously about their anxiety, the current state of chaos, fears and emotions is not only preserving their sanity but also making them aware of how it is only natural for them to be in such distress amidst the crisis. Improving their emotional intelligence, this, coupled with the UGC’s guidelines of providing psychological support to students will transform the education system for good.
Even though the country has been adapting to the new-age learning, but there still lies an obstacle in making the endeavours entirely successful. What still remains intact is that only 45 crore people of our total population of the country have access to the internet and thus to e-learning. The people residing in rural areas are still very much deprived of the latest advancements and therefore hampering the cause of online learning. Now, virtual classrooms are not only dependent on e-lectures but also require one to have access to the e-content and online study material, practise sheets etc. as well. And that’s where we lag behind as India is not fully equipped to make education reach all corners of the nation via digital platforms or online classrooms. The students who aren’t privileged like the others will be held back due to the current resort and there is no denying that. But universities and the government of India are relentlessly trying to come up with a solution to resolve this problem.
Uncertain times call for stronger measures and the education industry has been stepping up to take some. The pandemic has been working as a catalyst for the educational institutions to grow and opt for platforms and techniques, they haven’t used before. The times are changing, and the theories have always pointed out towards the survival of the fittest. Surviving these crises with a different approach and digitising the sector are the two elements which will get the industry through the storm and wash away the blues of the pandemic.