Published: 18th September 2020
Pandemic is generational opportunity to re-imagine education by removing connectivity barriers: HC
The judgment was passed by a Division Bench of the high court presided over by Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula over a petition filed by NGO Justice For All
The Delhi High Court on Friday while passing a judgment on a plea filed by an NGO held that the Covid-19 pandemic is "a generational opportunity to re-imagine education by removing connectivity barriers". "This Court is of the view that the present pandemic is both a challenge, as well as a generational opportunity to re-imagine education by removing connectivity barriers and related equity gaps and take a quantum jump by assimilating and incorporating latest technology that helps in providing and delivering quality education," said the high court.
The judgment was passed by a Division Bench of the high court presided over by Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula over a petition filed by NGO Justice For All through advocates Khagesh B. Jha and Shikha Sharma Bagga. "The new initiatives could even bridge the digital divide between different schools and between fee paying and non fee-paying students that has become evident during the Covid-19 crisis. "At a time, when benefits have started showing results under social welfare Acts and Schemes, the digital divide has started threatening the homogeneity," the bench held.
"If the poor and needy do not have access to digital education and if the State does not come forward to provide the much needed access to the Digital Education for the disadvantaged sections, the dreams of the Founding Fathers of Constitution would be in jeopardy," the bench said further. The high court further ruled that as per many thinkers, the world would be divided by technology not by ideology in the near future. "The initiatives/decisions that central as well as state governments and local authorities take now will have lasting impact on hundreds and millions of young people and on the development prospects of India for decades to come," the court said.
"After all, to achieve education for all, Digital Education is a major component of the solution, though not a replacement for formal classroom schooling, provided digital divide is erased from Indian Society," the order said. While passing the said order, the court has directed the the private unaided schools and government schools including Kendriya Vidyalya to supply gadgets of optimum configuration as well as internet package to Economically Weaker Section (EWS) students for accessing online education.
The bench also clarified that the cost of these gadgets are not a part of tuition fee and have to be provided free of cost to the EWS and DG category students. "...this Court directs that the private unaided schools shall be entitled to claim reimbursement of reasonable cost for procurement of the said gadget(s)/digital equipment(s) as well as internet package from the State under Section 12(2) of the RTE Act, 2009, even though the State is not providing the same to its students," said the court.