Every child in this country should have access to a quality education – “Education for All.”
An unforeseen pandemic (the Covid-19) forced educational institutions across the country to adopt online classes. This exposed how unprepared our education system was and the stark reality of the digital divide in India.
DISPARITY IN ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION AND THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
The digital divide is a term used to describe the gap between those that have access to digital devices, internet, technology, reliable power supply; and those that don’t.
Only 8% of all Indian households with school-going children have access to both computers and the internet. Even though 24% of Indians own smartphones, in most cases students who need them have no access to them. Two more factors that act as hurdles are the cost of broadband data packs and unreliable power supply.
Infrastructure Push-The Need of the Hour
Reliable and cheap digital devices: The government via the public-private partnership model should ramp up production of affordable high-quality digital devices and make it accessible through NGOs, Public Distribution System, and Government Schools. Equated monthly installments or innovative repayment installments have to be implemented to ensure every student gets access to these devices.
Reliable and economic broadband: This has to be done on a war footing. Every nook and the corner of the country should have access to reliable high-speed broadband. Concepts like Google Loon https://loon.com/ should be explored.
Reliable and uninterrupted power supply: Access to uninterrupted and reliable power supply must be declared as a fundamental right by an amendment to the constitution. Solar power and alternative sources of power generation should be given the much-needed push by incentivizing and promoting investments in this sector.
- Creating great content for teachers and students.
- Creating content in vernacular languages
Content Design and Delivery-Some Options
- Scanning QR Codes in school textbooks should redirect you to audio-video content that explains concepts in the textbooks.
- Content could also be delivered via tie-up with mobile telecom companies.
- Strategies used by digital payment firms such as PhonePe and PayTM to reach out to the last mile could be replicated.
- Modules can be delivered via purchases at the local grocery store, school, local post office, etc.
- Offering content free of cost or at a very nominal cost to beneficiaries.
- Technological innovation where the content can be downloaded with a max 50 MB data and can be watched offline.
What Companies like BYJU’s are doing?
BYJU’S has launched ‘Education for All’ a Social Initiative that aims to enable and empower 5 Million children from the underserved, geographically remote, and economically weaker sections by 2025. They have partnered with organizations such as the American India Foundation (AIF), Magic Bus, Save the Children, United Way, and Vadham Tea; these are companies that for decades have been working in the area of inclusive education and education for all outreach.
What can YOU do?
As a corporate, you can adopt villages, towns, schools, and a lot more. As an individual too, you can do your bit by donating a device or offering to pay for data, these little things could make all the difference. “Education for All” is our collective responsibility, together we can!!