Impact of digital education in India
How has the pandemic impacted education in India? Read opinion on how online education affected teachers, students and parents.
The consequences of the Pandemic are far reaching, wide and deep. It’d be searching for a needle in the hay to try to find something, a sector, that’s not affected by its claws. Education, across all levels and across nations, is not an exception.
According to UNICEF, the Covid-19 pandemic has battered education systems around the world, affecting close to 90 per cent of the world’s student population. In India, 286 million children from pre-primary to secondary levels are affected and in economic terms, India is estimated to lose $440 billion (Rs 32.3 lakh crore) in possible future earnings. (World Bank report, ‘Beaten or Broken: Informality and Covid-19 in South Asia’)
Status of online education in India
With existing classroom teaching crippled by the pandemic, education went online. It’s a potential inflection point which when crossed has a wide range of benefits.
To put in perspective, online education is cheaper, offers better mobility of resources, and saves from the commute. However, the country was not prepared to address the accessibility issue. The lack infrastructure and preparedness hindered what could have been a complete transformation. Only 12% government schools had internet facilities for the academic year 2020-2021 (The Hindu) and the teachers, students & parents faced different sets of challenges.
For educators who are so habituated to the traditional media of teaching, going digital overnight was a tremendous challenge. Lack of proper gadgets and network on one hand and lack of preparation in sound methodologies that maximize online learning outcomes has resulted in ineffectiveness. In addition to this, applications which make sessions more interactive are less and their adoption is meagre.
This group got terribly hit as they lost lots of value in terms of learning progress. While access to gadgets and network are common issues (especially in rural India), students had to stay away from field trips, and laboratory sessions. Deprived of mid-day meals and with limited interactions, schooling was definitely a below average experience.
With challenges like making education accessible to children and catering to the needs of family, parents faced a hectic year. Amidst job and income losses, it’s hard to imagine the stress they could have faced.
Had India’s digital infrastructure been better and had teachers got the time to prepare for handling online classes, we could have curtailed huge losses in future earnings. Digital learning offers several benefits but as a country I don’t think we are ready yet to embrace it.