Are the idealistic online classes reaching the students of government schools?
Digital classrooms and online teaching have emerged as the new reality today amidst the Corona-virus pandemic and the social distancing order. Technology dictates the term for online teaching as both public and private schools in India switch to digital platforms. This measure has brought a dramatic change in India's education system as online classes become the new norm.
E-learning and online classes call for remote learning on digital platforms—these range from virtual tutoring apps and video conferencing tools to online learning software. According to research, online learning is quick and accelerates information retention in children as it is more engaging and interactive.
Are online classes an effective medium of education?
The government has issued guidelines to schools to conduct online classes to ensure that learning outcomes are not compromised because of lockdown. Even in ordinary life conditions, online classes have become a new trend as they facilitate interactive learning.
Online classes bring relief to students as they can continue their studies without attending a physical school. A regular supply of electricity, an uninterrupted internet connection, the right digital gadgets, and a well-framed digital curriculum are the chief requisites for the proper conduct of online classes.
The charm of online classes is evident for students in towns and cities where appropriate resources are available. Students with households that have a good internet connection and the right kind of devices, like laptops and smartphones, have been able to join in for the classes. Students from small towns and rural areas struggle with a lack of resources, like internet speed and availability of gadgets. Sadly, most students of such regions are unable to attend online classes and stay deprived of the educational benefits.
The challenges that hinder the process of online learning are real and need attention. Let us first consider the challenges that face online learning on a nationwide platform.
Challenges faced in online learning
The stark digital divide steps out as the prime concern in conducting online classes in schools all over the country. Thus, there is a considerable divide in children from affluent urban families and low-income rural and semi-urban families as far as digital resources are concerned.
Internet is the backbone of running smooth online classes. In areas where there is a lack of reliable internet access or technology, students struggle to participate in digital learning. This gap can be seen across rural areas and small towns and between households with low-income groups. It is estimated that only 14.9 % of rural households have the internet as compared to 42% of urban households. Students from the economically weaker sections who attend government and low-budget private schools mainly face this problem.
Digital education heavily relies on an uninterrupted supply of electricity for powering gadgets as well as for internet connectivity. Although the government’s Saubhagya scheme records claim that more than 99% of homes India have an electric connection, the reality is entirely away from the facts. https://saubhagya.gov.in/
According to a national survey of Indian villages conducted in 2017-18 by the Ministry of Rural Development under Mission Antyodaya, only 47% of Indian villages receive more than 12 hours of electricity a day. Online classes remain a distant dream for the students in the remaining towns and lesser privileged areas.
The major challenge of online learning lies in the gap in access to electricity and internet connections to digital devices like computers or smartphones. This disparity is applicable across class, gender, region, and place of residence of students all over India. According to the National Sample Survey Education Report (2017-18), http://mospi.nic.in/sites/default/files/publication_reports/KI_Education_75th_Final.pdf
Although the Central and state governments have taken initiatives to improve the availability of resources, the digital infrastructure for remote learning has not improved due to an evident lack of funds. Online education requires necessary supportive measures to reduce social disparity and educational inequalities among learners.
Towards this effect, Right to Live has been working on a mission to improve the quality of e-learning in government schools. Right to Live has collaborated with BYJU’s, a Bangalore-based Ed-tech and online tutoring firm. The partnership has resulted in the introduction of an e-learning facility at Government schools. With BYJU’s free live classes on its Think and Learn app, there has been a significant increase in the response of lesser privileged students to attend online classes. As of today, this e-learning program is active in 40 schools, with almost 8500+ students attending it every day spread in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu; and it focuses on Government schools in rural areas where children cannot enjoy such facilities.
We, at Right to Live, are committed to providing quality education through our e-learning programs. We need your support in our mission of delivering e-learning in government schools so that we can reach out to the maximum number of underprivileged children in Government schools from rural parts of the country.
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