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GS-II :

Digital India is not prepared for digital education

  • 03 September, 2020

  • 10 Min Read

Digital India is not prepared for digital education

Context

  • Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the education sector is in crisis at the moment. Educational institutes are closed and most probably, they will remain closed through 2020 due to an increasing number of Covid-19 cases. This could even extend to 2021.
  • In this situation online education has come to the rescue of the cause of education. However there are several challenges of online education and the same needs to be fixed.

Challenges of Digital Education

  • Lack of Proper Study Room
    • Census 2011 tells us that 71 per cent of households with three or more members have dwellings with two rooms or less (74 per cent in rural and 64 per cent in urban areas).
    • In such a situation how will the children avail education in an undisturbed ambience remain a huge question.
  • Inadequate Internet Penetration
    • According to National Sample Survey data for 2017-18, only 42 percent of urban and 15 percent of rural households had internet access.
    • These data clearly suggest that 2/3rd of the children will be left out of the online education process.
  • Slow Internet Speed
    • When it comes to online education, it is mostly about communicating with teachers directly through video calls or watching online video lectures, and both require high-speed with a stable internet connection.
    • In absence of adequate speed of the internet the whole idea will fail.
  • No Standard Policy
    • Digital education is not about videos of lectures on blackboards by teachers on the internet.
    • It is about appropriate platforms, technology, tools, interactivity, curation, content and a lot more.
    • We lack a proper policy on digital education, infrastructure, content, interaction and multiple languages.
  • Lack of Social Cohesion
    • Public educational institutions also play an exemplary role in social inclusion and relative equality.
    • It is the place where people of all genders, classes, castes, and communities can meet without one group being forced to bow to others.
  • Teacher Training
    • Teachers look after the mental, emotional and social health of children in schools.
    • Teachers are not adequately trained to inculcate these learnings through online mediums.
  • Issue of Parenting
    • Another challenge is to keep thousands of children out of school when their parents return to their work spaces post lock down.
    • Who will assume responsibility for a child’s safety and learning at home remains a huge problem.

Way Forward

  • National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) now called Bharat Network aims to connect all 2,50,000 panchayats at the cost of over Rs 40,000 crore.
  • This includes e-governance, e-learning, e-banking, e-commerce and e-health services.
  • Once completed the Infrastructure will be a national asset and non-discriminatory access will be a game changer in the method of service delivery and hence it must be fast tracked.
  • National Knowledge Network (NKN) is a multi-gigabit national research and education network, whose purpose is to provide a unified high speed network backbone for educational institutions in India.
  • The NKN was established as a high bandwidth network to connect all knowledge-creating organisations comprising IITs, IIMs, universities, research labs and other e-governance institutions up to the district level.
  • It was aimed at encouraging collaborative development and building a repository of knowledge in all fields.
  • This network exists and is fully functional but only a few institutions take full advantage of it because of a lack of understanding, local facilities, funding and technical expertise.
  • More Budget allocation by the Governments for technical education in schools.
  • Increasing the education budget to 6% of the GDP is a welcome move in the New National Education Policy-2020 unveiled a few days back.
  • Most of the teachers and parents have to be trained to get the basic knowledge about technology.
  • Inclusion in distance learning programs, especially for students coming from low-income groups or the presence of disability is very important.
  • Government needs to provide support for digitalization to teachers as well as students by making such platforms and content available for free.
  • They must be assured the required infrastructure for online learning such as smartphones, and laptops.

 

Source: IE

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