Education Then and Now in India

Education is the key to success and a fat paycheck (most of the times it is!), though what comes in between is a prolonged struggle of incessant hours of mugging up several books accompanied by sleepless nights without any scope of living life to the fullest until one reaches the ultimate glory of success.

Sooner than a child reaches the age of 5, he is placed in a school with the mighty burden of 50 odd things like assignments, activities, projects and a few more stuff to come to a realization that the battle against time for success has already begun and this struggle shall persist for 20 more years of his/her life. It is amusing to see how a single human being operates on 40 plus students in a classroom and manages to survive by the end of the day. What’s more amusing is how a child accustoms himself to the environment of a classroom with minimal 6 hours of stringent sitting sessions and an absolute sense of isolation from legitimate sleeping. Though some doze off involuntarily only to be awakened by lashings from the teacher. While a few students put their heart and soul into the classroom teaching without whining, a considerable number of students cannot help but rant on about the autocratic school system. This is followed by thinking about how much relaxing it would be if there were anything like distance education… wait a minute, it is already out there! Imagine sitting on your bed, munching snacks without any fear of getting caught by any teacher while attending classes, however, the scenario of drowsing  learning before blackboard is replaced by the laptop/computer screen. Yes, this is the ultimate dream of every student who has been a victim of forced educational sessions conducted in a classroom without any access to food, friendly banter with fellow classmates and all possible connections to what is called ‘freedom of speech’ until class is over. 35 odd minutes of such education impositions might suck the creativity out from you unless you have a great teacher who makes classroom teaching helluva fun. (The odds to find such teachers are relatively far below than India’s Poverty line). Distance education is probably the epitome of ‘creative learning while sitting at home’ with certain terms and conditions intended. Before prodding upon the ‘Terms and Conditions’, it is necessary to trace the roots of this ‘heavenly’ concept of Distance learning. What Google says about Distance learning is a method of studying in which lectures are broadcast or conducted by correspondence, without the student needing to attend a school or college.’

However, students interpret the whole term as this: a method of studying in which lectures are conducted without the physical presence of a teacher which makes studying a little less painful and the unavoidable oddities of hunger and sleep while attending classes can be easily met.

Massive Online Open Courses have been trending in past few years where even the highest levels of degrees and doctoral programmes are involved. Many short term courses are even covered within 3 months of starting them. The history of Distance Education can be traced back to early 18th century in Europe where Issac Pitman came up with the ‘Shorthand System’ where Academic concepts and writings were mailed to students and feedback regarding that was also maintained. This system of learning went on to become a success and later in 1858, University of London became the first university to offer Distance learning Degrees. Radios in US were introduced as educational medium so as to broadcast educational sessions for schools and Universities.

However, it was internet which revolutionized the idea of Distance Education. With the onset of several online courses, more and more students have been applying for such online degrees and it serves the comfort to access education in possibly the most feasible way. Free Online Education has emerged as one of the promising ways to get education.

Several universities like Bharathiar University, Annamalai University and Anna University in India offer distance learning and provide academic degrees to students who prefer learning from home than taking regular classes.

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