Internet connectivity has become indispensable for imparting formal education. The cyber classroom has replaced the schools which were shut down since March last due to the COVID19 global pandemic. Its footprint is everywhere forcing this paradigm shift in the education sector. Schools were the first institutions to shut down in its wake fearing contagion among the children who cannot be expected to maintain safety protocols. There being no other way, online schooling is the alternative method to continue to keep the formal education system on track. Without this cyber substitute to physical schools and classrooms to hold up the system, the modern education system with the whole infrastructure and paraphernalia would have been the first to collapse under the weight of the impact of the Coronavirus. If the modern system of imparting education had crashed following the COVID19 lockdowns the impact would be felt, not only in this generation, but for generations to come.
The importance of keeping this sector functional cannot be over-emphasized and the Government of India (GoI) and the state government (SG) have promised to do all it can to keep it afloat. But the question arises here is why then, when the entire operation of online schools, training, meetings, conferences etc depends on good internet connectivity and strong signal strength, there is no move to improve the digital highway to make it easily available and accessible to all. As part of a country which is doing very poorly in internet connectivity, the academia in Meghalaya is struggling to keep itself relevant to the students who, on their part, are bravely trying to keep up with their studies in the cyber classrooms despite these technical problems.
Children, teachers and parents across the state and the country are spending hours on their mobile phones (other modes of connectivity being a distant dream) attending the cyber classes, reading the messages, writing assignments, and on part of the teachers, reading the assignments and correcting them, writing their lessons, and so on. They would not need to spend so much time had the connectivity and the network been better. But without proper connectivity and signal in most of the state and almost nonexistent connectivity in rural areas, parents, students and teachers are found roaming around the countryside, walking or driving long distances, climbing hills and trees, camping on highways, all hunting for locations with good networks to complete their syllabus. These startling and rather embarrassing scenes should have alerted the government of the day to the extreme urgency to improve matters in this sector. Here too one sees the inequalities between the rural and the urban, the salaried and the marginalized. But surprisingly, the political rulers of Meghalaya are more engrossed in other things which show that they are utterly lost to the idea of prioritizing the problems faced by the people. Education at the school level is the topmost priority for the future of the society and the state. Ensuring that their academic foundation is not disturbed by a global pandemic or any other problem is the key to ensuring continuity to the society. The cascading impact otherwise would be too serious for the society to bear and therefore it is urged upon the government to stop giving it only lip-service but to take it up on a war footing and immediately start the process to provide a working platform for the much touted online education.