Introduction of the area of study
COVID - 19 originated in Wuhan (China) and within a few months, became a global
threat, declared a pandemic by WHO. It shook the whole world at a drastic level.
This pandemic hadn't simply affected the health and life of humans but also
affected diverse sectors, be it industry, transportation, commercial enterprise,
agriculture, and many more. Likewise, it affected the education sector also.
Almost all over the world, all the schools, faculties, universities, and
educational institutions were shut down to prevent the hazard of spreading this
fatal virus. This was not the first time the world had faced a pandemic. History
has seen many other pandemics as well, but none had affected the education
system to the degree to which COVID-19 had affected.
Due to the closure of all
educational institutions from primary to university level, education came to a
halt, hampering the growth of students. As an attempt to put life in motion, the
concept of e-learning became prevalent. Every academic organization was engaged
in presenting schooling through online portals and was choosing numerous
techniques and systems to offer schooling to every scholar.
But there was yet
another issue, a lockdown was imposed in the whole country. Academic sessions
were late, examinations of various courses were pending, and some universities
were issuing guidelines for admission to courses. The world was not at all
prepared for this disaster and management was inexperienced in conducting the
exams, classes, and admissions without physical interaction. This whole chaos
led to tons of cases and writ petitions in various courts all over India.
This research work specializes in the role of judicial review during COVID - 19
in the Education Sector, pinpointing various judgments of various high courts
and the Supreme Court and its actual implementation on the ground level,
including the problem faced by students, teachers, and educational institutions
during the lockdown and way forward.
To have a better understanding of the problems, a review of the relevant
literature was conducted. The government must see that sufficient measures are
taken, concerning protecting and promoting education during difficult times. The
scope of education and judicial review is enormous, and this in itself is
understood in many different ways (UNICEF, Indian Case Study, Situation Analysis
on the Effects of and Responses to COVID-19 on the Education Sector in Asia,
The ground reality in India differs from the judiciary's
perspective on many aspects ("Role of virtual learning amidst covid - 19:
challenges & recommendations" Ekta Sood).
At the onset of 2020, the covid-19 shook the whole world terribly affecting
almost every sector including education. Being a developing country, India faced
a lot of issues in maintaining a serene environment. For better management,
various guidelines, directions, and co-circulars were issued by the judiciary
and government. However, it lacked in the actual implementation.
The tentative assumption on which the study proceeds is that the "judiciary had
put adequate efforts in mitigating the hindrances on education".
Research questions/ objective
The research aims to view the efforts of the judiciary in cases concerning
education during the covid-19 pandemic. Firstly, we'll focus on the impact of
covid-19 on the education sector and to what extent it hindered the growth of
students in India. Then, we'll see some judicial trends and seek to find out
whether the judiciary was capable of maintaining the balance during the state of
chaos accelerated by covid. Further, we'll seek help from surveys to check the
ground realities of judicial pronouncements. And lastly, we'll conclude the
The research paper has been divided into six Chapters. Chapter one titled
introduction, which has been added in the beginning, introduces the scope of the
study and includes a detailed research methodology listing out the literature
review, hypothesis, etc.
Chapter two contextualizes the impact of covid-19 on
the education sector in India. Chapter three analyses the challenges faced by
students, teachers, and institutions during a crisis. Chapter four mentions the
response of institutions to covid-19. Further, Chapter five presents some
judicial trends during covid-19, and Chapter six talks about the ground
realities of judgments and orders passed by officials. Chapter seven concludes
Impact Of Covid-19 On Education In India
The terrifying impact of COVID-19 has shaken the whole world to a drastic level.
Governments around the world had to permanently close educational institutions
to make an attempt to stop the threat of the spread of COVID-19, same goes for
the Indian government as a part of national lockdown has shut down all
educational institutions which affected the development of all the students'
from school going children to postgraduate.
The deteriorating effects of the
lockdown in India on schools and children are proportionally higher than in any
other part of the globe. According to U-DISE Report of 2016-17 on school
education in India, India has 1.4 lakh schools in which 2.01 lakh children were
enrolled. Most adversely impacted are students who had to wait for their
examinations. Due to their prolonged uncertainty around the upcoming exams,
students taking the Board exams were particularly affected.
hardship faced by students of class 12, be it in mental capacity or the stress
they were being part of because of a dilemma about their future study and the
continuous delay in examinations and results. However, most of the state
governments had to promote all the students of Classes 1-9 and 11 to the next
class as the best possible way to tackle the situation.
The closure of schools
witnesses the gap in learning among children. Hence, online classes had to
become the necessity savior of the hour and almost every educational institution
had to shift their operations to online teachings which too had its own
disadvantages ranging from social isolation to a lack of communication skills
development. The ongoing conferences, functions, seminars, and workshops in the
universities and colleges came to halt which were an important part of college
Teachers are too within the circle of affected people. Undoubtedly, virtual
learning has been tried in India, but it has been concentrated in some affluent
hands, not even teachers who were asked to get used to it in a very short span,
rarely trained for online classes. For virtual classes, no doubt, one must have
full knowledge of technology, knowledge of how to use various platforms, and how
to navigate the internet.
Challenges Faced By Students, Teachers & Educational Institutions During Virtual Learning In Lockdown Period
A worldwide health emergency crisis called COVID-19 forced the closure of
schools, colleges, and universities. The effects of this outbreak disrupted
education; hence virtual learning was chosen as a way to continue education.
Virtual learning, however, was a setback to students' academic and social life
as well as instructor productivity in such a limited amount of time.
education began, but there were many mistakes and uncertainties for everyone.
Stress and worry are common during these tumultuous times since both teachers
and students are dealing with a variety of difficulties while completing their
virtual sessions. These are the significant obstacles to the effectiveness and
quality of virtual learning.
- Students encountered numerous difficulties while learning online while
under lockdown. Some of them are:
- Less classroom interaction
- Students feel that online learning programs are more stressful than
physical classrooms. They may find regular classes stressful but with
friends and classmates, it feels much easier and manageable. They are
feeling left out and are stuck alone at home without friends.
- Online learning programs, in the opinion of students, are more stressful
than traditional classroom settings. While they may find regular classes
unpleasant, they discover that they are far more tolerable and easier when
they are alongside friends and classmates. They feel excluded and are
confined to their home without friends.
- Another significant issue a student had was internet connectivity. There
is good connectivity for students who reside in cities or adjacent areas,
but there are challenges for those who live in rural locations.
Consequently, it caused virtual classes to be interrupted.
- Due to economic disparities, not all students can afford computers,
laptops, and internet connections. This presents another difficulty for
students. Such students are unable to participate in online classes.
However, many kids come from low-income families and lack access to
Teachers claim that they have to respond to numerous questions from parents. Parents constantly ask questions about fee waivers or about any file that is too large to transmit.
Teachers' working hours have been increased. They need to manage household chores, attend live classes, send out assignments and lectures all the time, and respond to parents' demands for help. Due to the need to transmit work, provide comments, and respond to inquiries, they are now utterly dependent on their gadgets.
Another issue a teacher has is that most students are not accustomed to this method of instruction. Teachers must put in a great deal of work to prepare lectures in a way that students would find simple to understand.
Teachers, especially those employed in private positions, worry about losing their jobs or even seeing their pay reduced.
Teachers are struggling to keep pupils focused and try to keep them away from any distractions because students can easily become side-tracked when learning online because they frequently utilize social networking sites.
In India, virtual classrooms are nothing new, but the majority of teachers are still not tech-savvy, making it exceedingly challenging for them to adjust to this cutting-edge teaching approach. It is difficult for teachers to convert educational materials into digital form at such short notice due to the pandemic.
Internet access is a significant problem for both students and teachers.
Sharing large files in virtual courses is proving to be exceedingly difficult for teachers. Zoom, Skype, and Google are only used by prestigious institutions. Due to economic disparities, it is exceedingly challenging for a low-income student to purchase data plans, because downloading large files uses a lot of time and data.
- Educational Institutions:
Funded institutions are experiencing financial difficulties. These educational institutions are completely reliant on student fees.
Within a short time after the lockdown was declared, educational institutions had to close and migrate to online platforms. However, doing so takes large investments, and without money, it is difficult for all educational institutions in India to begin virtual lessons.
Until educational institutions prepare a qualified staff to handle such new issues, it is exceedingly difficult for a teacher to maintain discipline and guarantee 100% attendance in a virtual classroom. To address the difficulties of virtual learning, educational institutions must train their staff and faculty.
Even if schools, colleges, and universities must reopen, their infrastructure is insufficient for them to follow the COVID-19 guideline, which calls for maintaining social distance through sanitation in libraries and classrooms. It is a significant difficulty for educational institutions.
Managing hostels and canteens presents a significant additional difficulty for colleges and universities.
Education Sector Response To Covid-19 And Supported Continuity Of Learning:
- Part of the reopening process:
In India, the response plan for education continuity and the reopening of
schools was being managed at the state level. The Ministry of Home Affairs
Order dated 30 September 2020 directed the states to open the school in a
phased manner, except in red-zone areas. It also stated that:
According to the Ministry of Education guidelines, schools were not allowed to
conduct formal assessments for at least two to three weeks after reopening. Even
when they do, the pen-and-paper format of testing was discouraged for students
across all grades to "ensure emotional well-being of the students. Assessments
in the form of role plays, choreography, class quiz, puzzles and games, brochure
designing, presentations, journals, portfolios, etc., may be preferred over
routine pen-paper testing."
- Online mode was preferred as a mode of teaching as the pandemic was
prevalent when this direction was issued.
- Attendance must not be enforced and must depend entirely on written
- It was the school's responsibility to keep an eye on students who choose
not to attend physical classes and ensure that they'll remain in touch with
teachers through online mediums.
- With the reopening of the schools:
Following almost more than a year of school closure, teachers and principals
from several states had a lot of concerns about the condition of the education
sector. According to the Young Lives Report, Teachers anticipated that
school closings would have a long-lasting impact on student's ability to learn.
Teachers also recognized the categories already at risk as being weaker students
and students from the poorest households.
Because enrolment will be impacted by
both the economic consequences of the pandemic and the actual school closures,
head teachers in private schools were especially worried about students leaving.
Sadly, it appears that concern over the effects on disadvantaged learners was
frequently not matched with specific support for these groups. Instead, emphasis
was placed on students approaching important exams.
The state-specific approach with regard to maintaining safe operations once
schools had reopened is unclear based on the papers examined. Despite some
states, like Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh have created their
own regulations for safe school reopening based on the guidelines developed by
the central government, other states have not. According to the justices of
the High Court of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, "It is a matter of concern whether
the teachers and students would follow the COVID-19 guidelines."
given the UP-district administrations the order to frequently monitor all the
private and public schools to ensure that the rules were being obeyed. This
decision was made in response to a public interest petition that asked the court
to take action to stop the infection's spread in Uttar Pradesh.
Judicial Trends During Covid-19 Regarding Education
Sreelekshmi S. v. State of Kerala:
According to the Kerala High Court, salaries for both teaching and non-teaching workers must be paid each month during a lockdown. The relevant High Court dismissed the petitioner's argument that no costs should be assessed during the lockdown time.
Independent Schools Assn. v. State of H.P.:
The following are the directives that were issued by the Himachal Pradesh High Court:
- Other than the tuition fees, parents cannot be charged any other fees.
- Only courses offered by online learning classes are subject to a tuition cost.
- Other monies, such as the building fund, repair fund, sports fund, computer fees, co-curricular fees, etc., may be postponed during the lockdown period.
- No transportation fees may be incurred during the lockdown.
- No student will be denied access to online lessons or reading materials if they are unable to pay the charge because of the financial hardship caused by the lockout.
3. Rahul Sharma v. State of Gujarat:
Universities must comply rigorously with the rules set forth by the Central and
State Governments in order to maintain social distancing and sanitary conditions
on the campuses. Many universities in Gujarat have postponed the semester-ending
exam to a later date, and only a small number of them are considering the
possibility of an online exam. All Universities, however, cannot choose online
exams due to infrastructure, connectivity, and other related challenges in
remote places. Universities planning to conduct physical exams must create clear
instructions and guidelines that follow the Central Government's criteria.
The petitioner is pleased with how the COVID-19 epidemic is continuing to alter
normalcy in novel ways. The disputed resolution and the actions adopted by the
respondent States in the wake of it are only the first steps in establishing a
balance between the risks and hazards posed by COVID19 and, with all due
prudence, returning people's lives to normalcy.
The Hon'ble Court is being questioned whether the High Court should provide the
State Government with any specific instructions on how the Universities
throughout the State of Gujarat would conduct examinations. The High Court
stated that it is now up to the individual universities to make the final
decision regarding how to conduct the physical test without endangering the
lives of the students. However, if the situation worsens, the universities will
need to move the exam to a different date. The examinations are conducted with
zero danger of any kind.
Rakesh Kumar Agarwalla v. National Law School of India University
For law school admissions for the academic year 2020�2021, CLAT was scheduled
for May 10, 2020. However, the surge of COVID-19 cases led to a tighter national
lockdown, which caused the CLAT Examination to be postponed to September 28,
2020. According to the NLSIU curriculum, students must complete a minimum number
of working days throughout each trimester, which runs from July through
September, November through February, and March through June.
Council of NLSIU devised a plan to have their own entrance exam, to be called
NLAT 2020, in order to avoid Zero years. The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is
the sole way that NLSIU is required by Supreme Court order to administer their
In total, 488 government school employees and 1158 parents (from both private
and public schools) from five different states-Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand,
Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh- were asked questions in the study. This status report
provides information on the difficulties in obtaining education during the
lockdown as well as the problems teachers are dealing with. In this section,
we'll be going through the extent to which the aforementioned judgments of the
Supreme Court and the various High Courts were implemented.
These judgments were
passed not only to relieve the economic strain but also to mitigate the mental
stress faced by students due to the repeated postponement of their exams. Being
negligent of the gravity of the matter the institutes chose otherwise, whose
revelation is done by the data mentioned below, which has been collected from
various newspapers and local references.
Education costs for private schools: Education costs for private schools account
for a significant portion of household income. Among all the parents surveyed,
half of them said that they spent over 20% of their income on their children's
education in private schools, while a quarter said they spent between 11% and
20% and the last quarter said they spent up to 10%.
This result is in line with
data from NSSO (2014), which demonstrates that, for a family with a single
earner, the average outlay for private schooling (for two children) accounts for
20% of household income. While 54% of students from the top quintile (based
on per capita family expenditure) attend private schools, the corresponding
statistic for the bottom quintile is 12% (Central Square Foundation, 2020). This
huge out-of-pocket expense excludes the poorest children.
Fees increase when schools are physically closed and in lockdown Bihar,
Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh, the states that participated in the
study, issued directives urging schools to not raise their prices or put
pressure on parents to make fee payments during the lockdown. Odisha requested
that schools take fee reduction/deferral into consideration in an appeal from
the CM's office.
Parents reported having to pay increased costs for the upcoming
academic year, according to 39% of parents, despite notifications and requests
from state governments instructing private schools to consider
reducing/deferring tuition during the lockdown.
Over 50% of parents in Uttar
Pradesh and Odisha had to pay higher tuition. Odisha did not release guidelines
prohibiting fee increases, although UP had. Despite this, a sizable portion of
parents in both states were required to pay increased tuition. This demonstrates
the need for improvement and stricter enforcement of private school regulations
to safeguard parents' rights, particularly at a time when over 80% of households
have experienced an income loss.
During the lockdown, parents were compelled to pay fees. Only 8% of parents said
that their children's schools had pressured them to pay fees in the states of
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh, where this was explicitly
prohibited. In contrast, 35% of parents in Odisha reported feeling pressured by
the school to pay fees during the lockdown despite the absence of any clear
restrictions. This demonstrates unequivocally that the first step in defending
parental rights is the establishment of explicit government regulations or
Providing education during the lockdown in private schools, the delivery of
education had been disrupted for almost 60% of the students. WhatsApp was the
most common method used when education was "delivered," as stated by 57% of
parents, followed by YouTube, Zoom, and phone calls between the teacher and the
student (22% each).
It is consistent with other findings, such as the
exploratory survey by the Central Square Foundation (2020) on the influence of
COVID-19 on private schools, that WhatsApp is used as the major method of
education "delivery." Parents might choose from a variety of options for this
This approach gives us an idea of the proportion of
schools actively "delivering" education as opposed to those that are only
disseminating knowledge. Without delving into the educational validity of
various mediums, it is clear from the list that only one medium, Zoom, can
support online "instruction," with WhatsApp, YouTube, and phone calls being the
only other options for sharing information or providing supplemental resources.
Children thus obtained materials or instructions via phone calls, WhatsApp,
YouTube, and barely a fifth of the households provided any type of formal
teaching. Despite this, nearly twice as many parents (39) reported fee
increases by schools during the epidemic than reported an organised method of
Availability of Midday Meals:
The Supreme Court ordered governments to continue
the availability of midday meals (MDM) despite the shutdown of schools in March
(Rautray, 2020). Odisha, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand are
the other states that make up the study.
All of these governments had issued GOs
regarding the distribution of MDM (Angad, 2020; Bajpai, 2020; Mishra, 2020;
Mohanty, 2020; Ravi, 2020). In spite of this, the poll reveals that 35% of kids
missed their midday meals. Only 8% of the remaining 65% received cooked meals;
in contrast, 53% were given dry rations, and 4% were given cash (DBT) in place
of the MDM. Of the states surveyed, Chhattisgarh performs the best, with over
90% of children receiving midday meals.
Uttar Pradesh performs the worst, with
92% of children being denied midday meals (in any form). A likely reason for
this could be the method of MDM delivery; in Chhattisgarh, rations are delivered
to households, whereas in UP, the government has prioritized delivering a food
security allowance in place of the MDM.
Children from Dalit and Adivasi
communities are most at risk because they depend on MDM for nutrition, with 1.15
million children at risk of malnutrition as a result of the interruption of
midday meals (Bhowmick, 2020).
The mental health of students:
A total of 324 college students participated in
the study, of whom 180 (55.6%) were male and 144 (44.4%) were female. After
assessment of the psychometric scales, it was found that of the 324 students,
223 (68.8%) had high fear of COVID-19, 93 (28.7%) had moderate to severe
depression, and 167 (51.5%) had mild to severe anxiety.
"The face of the truth is covered by golden vessel;
Oh human, uncover it for the vision of truthful dharma"
The onset of the year 2020 was really harsh for all the countries across the
world. It changed the dimensions of conventional education. Not only did this
crisis affected students, instructors, and parents, but also educational
institutions. Students use tools like Skype, Hangout, Zoom, Webex, and Google
Meet to complete their education while staying in constant contact with their
This time, both students and teachers have a lot of opportunities to
sign up for a variety of courses through SWAYAM, Coursera, etc. to expand their
thought processes. But the fact that no one was ready for the complete switch to
the virtual world created many problems. The problem was not just the digital
divide or lack of physical education but lack of environment and students closed
to four walls of their home, away from their friends also gave a toll on their
Various government schemes like mid-day meals in schools for
providing nutrients to students were also abruptly stopped. Indeed, the
judiciary and government through various circulars and guidelines tried to
control the situation. But the reality was different.
Despite all the
guidelines, fees of educational institutions increased, parents were forced to
pay fees, and staff and non-teaching staff lost their jobs. Hence, the judiciary
did an excellent job on its behalf but better implementations of the directions
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