The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all sectors of human activities and education is not any exception.
This article talks about how COVID-19 has affected the education sector in India and what step show we take going forward.
2.1 What the COVID-19 has taught us
- The COVID-19 has toppled the world economies, left people stranded and isolated alone, devastated education, work and travel and worst of all has caused thousands of deaths worldwide.
- The most important lesson that the pandemic has taught us is that people, places and non-human entities and processes are intricately interconnected.
- We have ignored these connections and relations for a long time now in most of the spheres of life, particularly economic, food systems and pedagogic setups.
2.2 Importance of educating ourselves
- Majority of discussions in the COVID-19 times are centredaround investments in 'green economy'.
- Green technologies, efficient and less polluting transport, work from home, e-learningto name a few. This all are noble ideas but exist only in talks and on paper and not much in substance.
- These novel ideas of today arising from the experiences and understanding during the lockdownmay be forgotten soon after a COVID-19 vaccine is in place.
- The green economy is a promising idea to tackle climate change, but we need to ensure that this discourse on development is continued.
- Longlisting and transformational changes in a sustainable way of life is only possible through fundamental changes in education and educating ourselves continuously.
3.1 Learning the interconnectedness
- We must realise and teach our children at an early age about the interconnectedness of our surroundings, our lives and the planet at large. All these influence and get affected by the other equally.
- This realization is only possible if we change the very fundamentals of education.
- Instead of presenting each discipline of education separately and isolated we must stress on the interconnectedness and look forward to integrate them with our natural world.
3.2 Rewriting History
- Instead of teaching history by dividing it in periods based on wars and rise and fall of mighty empires, we should also include ecological changes to the landscape and the natural surroundings as a part of the lesson.
- Much like there was a movement in the history to revise and rewrite history from the subaltern narrative, the need of the hour is the integration of ecological perspective, connections and changes.
- Instead of teaching only the economic aspect of the 'Drain of wealth' from India by the Britishers and its consequences on the Indian economy and working class, the curriculum should also include the ecological consequences of the British Colonialism in India.
- For example the consequence of deforestation at unprecedented levels for railways and its effect on local population and terrain.
3.3 Expanding Geography
- In a similar way, the pedagogy of geography should be expanded to include land and forest use.
- We should be taught the ecological cost of development of cities and the effect of changes in land use on the physiographic features of the area and on humans.
- We also teach the consequence of economic development and industrialisation on water bodies and seas and the effect of climate change on the coast and life of people living in the coastal areas.
4.1 Changes have begun
- Such new learning systems will lay down a strong foundation for understanding human induced climate change, which is accelerating due to increased anthropogenic activities and release of greenhouse gases.
- There has already been a small movementto inculcate the destructive changes that the anthropogenic activities have inflicted on the earth. This has been done particularly in the fields of literature, culture studies and history.
- This holistic and inclusive thinking is still in its nascent phase and not mainstream.
- For a child brought up under modern pedagogy a significant unlearning will be required to grasp these realities and interconnectedness.
- Pedagogy and curriculum developers need to restructure and redefine materials that are used to impart knowledge.
4.2 Significant developments
- Recently a historian attempted to describe the history of the subcontinent by looking at rain, rivers and coasts. He describes how political and economic development induced human activity managed water as a resource.
- The role of imperialism in climate change is discussed in the book ‘The great derangement’.
- There is a renewed interest to teach modern history incorporating ecological changes.
- In literature, novelist and poets have already started incorporating ‘Anthropocene’ in there writings.
- Though these developments are promising and welcome, these changes need to be deepened as well as expanded to include other subjects and disciplines as well.
- The Gaia Hypothesis suggests that living organisms and the physical world they live in are in a constant complex interacting system that maintainsequilibrium.
- The writer suggests that COVID-19 can be looked as Gaia warning humanity and showing how fragile modern man and the structure and connections man relies upon are.
- Unchecked development backed by policies with the motto of growth at any cost is bound to fail as one and every product in the economy has its eventual source in nature only.
- Our education system must transform to reflect this understanding.
‘Transforming education’, The Hindu