Human Rights Day is celebrated on December 10 every year. It commemorates the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being regardless of color, religion, sex, language, nationality of birth status. Interestingly, it is the most translated document available in over 500 languages.
The theme for this year’s Human Rights Day is Dignity, Freedom and Justice. Human rights mean rights or basic freedoms that include the right to live, health, education, and freedom of speech. These human rights are protected by national and international laws and treaties.
The theme- Dignity, Freedom and Justice is tightly knit with education, as all of these come with a literate and educated society.
With education comes dignity and respect. Education is the pathway to a better life for people from various walks of life. Women, differently abled persons and people from marginalized society are treated with respect if they’re educated.
It is not just dignity that one attains from being educated, but also the freedom to live life on your terms. Once you’re educated, you have the freedom to choose a job and life that fits your ambitions and aspirations. You also have personal and financial freedom.
Nevertheless, the right to education and access to quality education for all still faces a myriad of challenges. The Indian education system has its share of problems that is denying access to education to a large population even today.
Access to education is one of the biggest challenges our country is facing. While the situation is comparatively better in urban areas, education is still a dream to those residing in rural areas. Even if children residing in rural areas have access to schools, the quality of education provided is questionable.
Millions of students were cut off from education as the pandemic took the world by storm. According to UNESCO, the duration of school shutdown in India had been among the longest in the world. Even though school dropout is a prevailing issue in India, the pandemic made it worse. According to the Indian government’s Unified District Information System for Education Plus report of 2021, the annual dropout rate of secondary students stood at 14.6% in India. With existing inequalities in the education system, these were aggravated by the pandemic. Even though classes were conducted online, many students could not study remotely, bringing a gap in their education.
Some major challenges that come in the way of education are- lack of accessibility, infrastructure and content delivery. The use of technology can put an end to these challenges. While children are struggling to complete school, higher education remains unreachable for many. Moreover, the government of India has stressed the importance of technology more than ever before in the National Education Policy, 2020.
In the last decade, India is experiencing rapid digitalization. The Indian government has stressed on the “extensive use of technology in teaching and learning, removing language barriers, increasing access as well as planning education and management.” With the incorporation of technology, the government aims to achieve 100% literacy.
The NEP recognizes the importance of making education more accessible, especially for differently abled children, improving quality of content delivery, all with the intervention of technology.
The policy calls for investment in digital infrastructure, developing online teaching platforms, creation of virtual labs, technology and pedagogy for online teaching and learning. The government aims to provide access to education and technology to every student in urban and rural areas, whether in the form of smartphones or laptops.
Several efforts are being made by the government to make these aspirations a reality, like the digital India campaign. Moreover, under the PM-WANI scheme cleared by the Union Cabinet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to improve Wi-Fi connectivity across the length and breadth of India.
While the pandemic restricted people from stepping out, the world survived on technology. Work from home and online classes became the new normal. Technology has become an integral part of everyone’s lives and has come handy in the functioning of various sectors, especially education.
Over the last few years, the EdTech sector has brought about significant changes in the education system. From breaking physical barriers, improving accessibility and flexibility, EdTech has helped education reach the homes of many. Since the government’s nod to the collaboration of universities and EdTech firms, the quality of online education has improved massively.
On Human Rights Day, it is important to think about whether every child or student in India has access to quality education. With technology driving the world today, EdTech is helping education reach every corner of the world. While there is a need to improve internet access in several parts of the country, EdTech will help bridge existing gaps in the system.
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Manipal University Jaipur