The pandemic forced schools, universities, educational institutes to adapt to online learning. There are plenty who have adapted this method. A credit of this change goes to technology which resists learning to be constrained in the need for physical proximity. Online learning is like the food served on the platter. There’s no better example of online learning than the current crisis, where students can learn while sitting in their homes.
It’s an excellent step, however, it divides people digitally. Talking about online learning and the future of online education is good, but at what cost? People are taking online classes, learning fresh courses, but nobody is mentioning the actual problem. While some colleges or schools can vaunt that they have finished their student’s syllabus, the majority is muddled.
Digital learning is the concept of West, we’re still lacking in it. There are enough reasons to elucidate where we’re lacking. Online courses are earning a hefty amount. But who is learning at this cost? Only higher and upper-middle class. So, what about the middle-class or poor people whose only way is to get a study in schools.
To avail of online learning, one must have good internet speed, smartphone, laptop, electricity. Financially viable students have the latest laptops, stable Wi-Fi connections, and more gadgets than other students. This, however, amplifies the digital divide.
No Internet access and lack of gadgets
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India data shows that around 78% of Indians have mobile phones, but in rural areas, it tallies up to around 57% only. Forget everything, writing your exam on the mobile phone is not possible. According to the National Sample Survey, around 24% of households have Internet access and only 11% own computers. People use mobile phone hotspots more than Wi-Fi in India. Connectivity and signal issue weakens the online learning of students.
Look at some news clippings where it has been reported that students died of suicide because of no phone.
1. No smartphone for online classes, Punjab girl allegedly commits suicide.
2. 17-year-old Mansa girl commits suicide after being denied a smartphone.
3. Lacking smartphone to attend online classes, class 9th girl sets herself ablaze in Kerala.
4. Kerala class 10th girl ends life allegedly over lack of access to online classes.
In cities, if the power supply is the issue, then what must be the condition of remote areas. The power supply in rural areas is broken-down. 47% of India received over 12 hours of electricity, 33% received 9–12 hours and 16% received 1–8 hours of electricity daily.
Not everyone is privileged enough to be a part of online education. This is the time government should step in to ensure something that would not pressurize people. Online education is not bad, but the problem is it divides people digitally. Achieving Online education has a long way to go to India, where most of the population resides in remote areas with a lack of resources. Online and offline education both have to work after this pandemic ends. For now, colleges and schools have to think about what they can do if the situation persists. The future of online education depends on how we carry forward the underserved population of India.
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