Troubles in Education during the Pandemic
Education is defined as imparting or acquisition of knowledge through
teaching or training. It is the powerful weapon of development and one of the
strongest instruments of reducing poverty and unemployment. It makes a person
eligible to earn a better living leading to the development of society at large.
An educated person tends to have a unique mindset as it develops rationale
Education is recognized as an essential and fundamental human right globally as
it yields important development benefits. India is regarded as home to 19% of
the world’s total children, which implies that India consists of the most number
Provisions mentioning Education as a ‘fundamental right’ are enumerated in the
Constitution of India. Article 21-A was inserted through the Constitution
(Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 whereby, the State guarantees free and
compulsory education of all children of the age of six to fourteen years. The
eleventh fundamental duty under article 51-A along with Article 45 under the
Directive Principles of State Policy also envisages provisions regarding the
right to education.
Other than this, The Right of Children to free and compulsory Education Act also
had come into force from 1st April 2010 which is in consequence of the
legislation enumerated under Article 21-A. Therefore, it is the legal obligation
of the State, to make sure that no child is deprived of free and compulsory
The right to education has global recognition. Apart from being recognized by
Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is recognized as a
basic human right in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and
Cultural Rights and various other international conventions as well.
In the landmark case of Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka, the decision of the
Supreme Court made the right to education a fundamental right. It was held that
the right to education was an integral part of the right to life.
In the case of Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Education v. K.S.
Gandhi, it was held that the right to education at the secondary stage was a
fundamental right as well.
The arrival of the Pandemic
The unprecedented global health crisis came into the light imposing its adverse
effects on everything going on in our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused
great harm to human rights and so is, right to education adversely been
affected. To safeguard the lives of the citizens of the country, the states
imposed lockdown, which leads to the total shutting down of schools, colleges,
and all other educational institutions. Although it was started with the closure
of one month, continues with no clues of getting re-opened.
The crisis has adversely affected the lives of the youngsters who had to step
into the new phase of their lives – the students in board exams, nursery school
admissions, competitive exams, and entrance exams of various universities.
Impact on School Education
The method of teaching acquired by the schools stands nowhere in comparison with
the online teaching system. The physical interaction between the teacher and the
child is not possible in online classes. The child got exposure to the real
world, meeting new people, and learning the importance of being social is no
more in existence. Also, only a few private schools of high-income groups can
easily adopt the online teaching methodology, which turns out to be difficult
for low-income and governmental counterparts.
Impact on Universities Education
The overnight closure of universities drained out the mental state of both the
administration and the students. The final year students, who were just about to
grab their degrees after exams, were unable to sit in the exam halls now. Online
classes were another great deal to face. The middle-aged faculty members, who
used to face problems in operating simple features of smartphones, had to
conduct online classes through Zoom and MS Teams applications.
Challenges faced by students
It is not less than a challenge for students of all ages to acquire education in
this pandemic era. It adversely affects the mental health of students. Ones, who
were all set to get admission into a new college or a new school and start a new
phase of life, were locked down in their houses. Little children, who were going
to meet their new teachers to learn the A B Cs, did not even come to know what
Students, who had prepared for their board exams by working hard the entire
year, were told that their exams are either canceled or postponed indefinitely.
Children, who were told to stay away from mobile phones, are now been scolded
for not sitting in front of the screen of their mobiles and tablets for their
online sessions right in the morning.
Fast and reliable technology and internet access are very difficult in certain
areas. The network issue tends to interrupt at any time mostly in rural or
under-developed areas. Some families also faced difficulties in providing a
device with an internet connection to each of their children.
The children are exposed to a situation that is very hard for them to
understand. But, amid the Covid crisis, the government is bound by the legal
obligation to make sure that the basic fundamental rights are safeguarded in the
best ways possible.
Global organizations such as UNESCO are also backing up countries to mitigate
the losses incurring due to the closure of educational institutions.
The reports of UNESCO mention that approximately, 32 crore students in India
have suffered, and on the other hand, 290 million students across 22 countries.
The rationality of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Mohini Jain
v. State of Karnataka was further examined in another landmark case of
– Unnikrishnan v. State of Andhra Pradesh, whereby, the right to
education was given an additional meaning in the following words:
‘A citizen can call upon the state to provide educational facilities to him
within the limits of his economic capacity and development, comes within the
meaning of the right to education.’
Therefore, it becomes the duty of the state to take necessary action in this
regard by providing all necessary arrangements for remote learning to maintain
the continuity of education.
Remote learning has come up as the most reliable solution for continuing the
learning process. The government has brought up various e-learning platforms to
leverage the situation and offer free online and interactive classes which can
easily be accessed from home.
Digital education facilitates distance learning across diverse geographies in a
very appropriate manner. Therefore, a device with good internet connectivity
after this revolution is the need of the hour.
Apart from all these benefits, certain adverse effects that the reports claimed
also came to light. Reports issued by UNESCO claimed that half the total number
of learners do not have proper access to technology. National institutions of
mental health and nervo science claimed that little children were now more prone
to severe neurological and eye diseases.
Keeping in view all this discouragement regarding digital education, Karnataka
Government imposed a ban upon online classes up to class 5th.
On the other hand, any sort of ban imposed on online classes violates the
fundamental right to education enumerated under Article 21-A of the Indian
Constitution which was an integral part of the Right to life mentioned under
Article 21 of the Constitution.
To bridge the gap between the good and bad effects of digital education for
students from kindergarten to 5th standard, advisory guidelines were issued by
the State that included a reduction in screen time for students. It was also
clarified that neither the school authorities could impose compulsion on
students to attend the online classes nor they should be charged extra fee.
In a recent judgment of Faheema Shirin R.K. v. State of Kerala & Ors., the High
Court of Kerala recognized that – ‘the right to have internet access is an
integral part to right to education and right to privacy as well under the
Constitution of India.
But since the fundamental rights are not absolute and are subject to reasonable
restrictions as held in the landmark judgment of Kesavananda Bharti v. State of
Kerala, the High Court of Kerala in Anjitha K. Jose v. State of Kerala & Ors,
held that certain restriction must be imposed that must have a connection with
the discipline to make sure no unnecessary usage of mobile phone is being done.
In the case of Anuj Garj v. Hostel Association of India, The Hon'ble Supreme
Court extended the principles to ensure that the States must provide that the
children are equipped with modern technologies to compete well in this highly
dynamic and developing world to attain success.
Apart from these, various issues have been emerging regarding cancellation and
postponement of examinations upon which cases are still waiting for an
In Praneeth K v. University Grants Commission, whereby, the Court revised its
judgment of canceling final year exams and gave states the discretion to
approach the University Grants Commission (UGC) for an extension of the deadline
by which, final year exams should be completed. Because, the UGC urged that
examinations are a very crucial step and thus, it mandated that all final year
exams be conducted amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Because UGC made it clear that
awarding a degree without conducting the final year exams, is unfair and a
violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
Multiple cases were combined under a single hearing which included cases of 11
In the latest case of Dhananjay Kulkarni vs Union of India and others, the
Bombay High Court has held that mockery is being made of the education system if
the examinations are canceled. Children’s future must be taken care of, it must
not be spoiled, and not be kept at stake in the name of the pandemic.
The proliferation of Coronavirus has extremely petrifying effects on all aspects
of life. It has shaken the world adversely. Education is the building block of
one’s personality. It makes a person eligible for anything he or she wants to
achieve. Education is fundamental for the development of society and thus, has
great importance in every developing country like India.
Adequate measures must be taken to safeguard the Education System which is truly
at stake currently. If the roots are loose, the tree suffers; if the youngsters
are deprived of education, the entire country will have to suffer. Because, the
ones who are to be educated, the country will be in their hands tomorrow.
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