A “comical” view of educational issues – The New Indian Express
Express press service
While significant developments have occurred in the country’s education system over the past few decades, India is still far from having developed an egalitarian system focused on equal opportunity. If you think about it, educational institutions are plagued with marginalization. The pandemic has also brought its share of problems in the form of inaccessibility to education for many students who have not been able to attend classes virtually. Little has been done to address these issues.
Aware of the dearth of discourse around the education system, Vrinda Bhatia (25) and Sayan Chaudhuri (34), residents of Munirka, decided to launch “Aaina”, a comic-based Instagram microblog that renders academic perspectives more accessible, in February 2021. “We wanted to find a cohesive way not only to relate to the academic experience, but also to think about alternatives,” shares Bhatia, who is currently pursuing a PhD at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU ).
Since its inception, the “Aaina” team has grown to include Joyeeta Dey from Kolkata (31), Sruthi Ranjani (22) from Chennai and JNU student Nidhi Kinhal (23). “Even though the research is important, it barely reaches people. ‘Aaina’ is becoming an important area to engage in research in an easier way,” shares Dey.
Searching for Important Topics
Scrolling through their Instagram page (@aaina_edu), you’ll come across a number of comics about real-life scenarios – infrastructure issues faced by students with disabilities, gender inequality in sports, and more. Each strip is divided into slides – the first demonstrate the problem through real scenarios; the last slide provides a brief explanation and solutions. “That way the posts are both relevant and helpful to readers. [who are mostly students]adds Bhatia. While many of them are presented through extensive sociological and educational research, the team also engages in conversation with students and teachers across India about their experiences with the education system.
Making this scholarly research accessible in succinct information is nothing less than a challenge. “The biggest challenge is to come up with short, understandable dialogue that is simple but can get the point across. It needs to be something readers can skim through while still retaining the nuance of the subject matter,” Ranjani shares. They also mention that Engaging in constant conversation is key. “Discussions help to make it clear that these are everyday ideas that people think about. It’s almost absurd how academia distorts useful information with jargon” , concludes Dey.
Although they received promising feedback from their followers, the team is preparing to create a website to reach a wider audience. Bhatia concludes: “Many teachers are not on Instagram, so the platform is somewhat inaccessible for a wider audience. The website will provide more reach.