Pune: It is evident that the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted education in India in 2020-21. From blackboards to computer screens, we sure have come a long way. From schools to universities, all have adopted the online mode to impart education and knowledge.
There are certain places in the country where schools have resumed but not at their full capacity. There is still hope for normalcy but not anytime soon. Since India has only vaccinated adults, children still face the risk of being exposed to the virus.
Therefore, throughout 2020 and now 2021, we saw students around us attending school online. However, there was a certain population of students we missed to consider.
Online teaching is something many institutions are contemplating, but do Indians have the capacity to fully embrace digital learning and teaching?
According to a preliminary data analysis, there are various challenges faced by students in India to access digital education.
An online survey carried out by Learning Spiral shows that children face a multitude of problems in accessing education digitally.
The results of the survey are:
• The dominant mode of education being used is WhatsApp which is used by 75% of people in India.
• The second mode of education is phone calls between a teacher and their students. It is being used by 38% of people in India.
The challenges that emerged in the survey are:
• Over 75% of children reported a host of challenges to access education digitally.
• The unavailability of the internet stands to be the top cause of not being able to access digital education.
• Not being able to afford data plans and the internet is also a major cause of not being able to access digital education.
• Poor internet connectivity is also a hindrance for children to access digital education.
• Lack of IT support in schools and to students creates problems in the delivery of online learning.
• Continuous technological changes pose a challenge for students with little or no technical knowledge.
• Un-optimized software for mobile devices has emerged as a serious issue.
• Many students have reported security issues while online learning.
Even though there are multiple benefits of online education, it can only be reaped by students who have access to good internet, smart devices and technology knowledge and assistance.
Despite multiple challenges faced by students on a daily basis to access digital education, not even a single instance of delivery of education through a non-digital medium was reported.
Due to continued digital education in India despite the aforementioned challenges, it is estimated that students from disadvantaged backgrounds will lose out on 40% of their previous year’s learning.
Therefore, the country and the government should focus on democratizing the use of technology and find solutions to reduce the massive digital divide between urban and rural areas in India.
Irrespective of the location of the student, assistance in terms of digital education should be made available by the schools and the government.