Sanjiv Kadam, CEO & Founder of ViewStar
By: Sanjiv Kadam, Founder, and CEO of ViewStar Technologies LLP
With schools being shut down across the globe due to the pandemic, it has dramatically affected the education system and has led to the rise in e-learning or blended learning. While there are certain benefits, there are also a number of challenges when it comes to online education.
Even though the education system in India is the largest after China, quality education in the rural and village areas remains to be one of the biggest challenges. A number of studies have demonstrated the wide gap between rural and urban education. According to a survey report called the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 70% of the students of class V and 60% of students of class VIII from rural schools cannot do simple basic division, 56% of Class V students and 31% of class VIII students cannot read Std II textbooks, and 57 % of rural and village Indian schools have only 3 teachers or less.
The extreme disparity of wealth, poor infrastructure, paucity of trained and skilled teachers, student-teacher ratio, inadequate teaching material, lack of availability of electricity, access to learning material, amongst the others, are the challenges faced in Indian rural schools.
While education in the urban areas is evolving with newer teaching techniques, the rural areas continue to follow the traditional method of blackboard teaching. There is an urgent need for reinvention in the education system that would provide safe distance education to children of our country during the current challenging times. The rapid influx of technology in the education system amidst the pandemic has given a rise to a new era where the traditional methods of teaching have to be revamped and enhanced by introducing and adopting newer teaching techniques to develop their students holistically.
Need and importance of hybrid learning in the rural pockets of India
It is of utmost importance to work towards providing education to children in rural India, to improve learning outcomes, reduce the school dropout rate, reduce child labor, and provide an intervention to disrupt the vicious cycle of poverty. This all can be achieved through hybrid or blended learning.
There are manifold benefits associated with hybrid learning- a combination of old teaching methodologies and device-agnostic digital educational tools. Students can experience the teacher’s conventional teaching augmented by digital audio-visual content which incorporates animations, videos, illustration, and graphics. This makes understanding basic concepts and fundamentals very easy ensure enhanced retention and improves student performance.
Right from providing children with access to digital education in rural areas, enabling teachers to deliver information remotely, to providing flexibility to choose how one can learn, hybrid or blended learning helps to break away from the many barriers that have traditionally existed. Hybrid learning also provides immense teacher support and student learning tools.
A digital education solution that provides for blended learning and which replicates a physical classroom is the need of the hour. One of the most important factors while implementing the hybrid learning approach is to ensure that the quality of the learning experience is the same as in-class training.
With the advent of new generation technology, social innovations have seen the pioneering of solar-based digital education which enables you to start a digital classroom in the remotest hinterlands of our country in the absence of electricity supply. Whilst solar power based digital education is a very potent technology combination, the icing on the cake is the introduction of projector-based virtual classrooms which combine the versatility of Android projectors & the powerful features of new generation platforms like Zoom and Google Meet to provide safe distance education to children of our country during the pandemic.
While there are multiple benefits of digital education, lack of funds is the barrier to this much-needed panacea. These barriers can be eliminated when all stakeholders like the Government, NGOs, and Corporates make a concerted effort and join hands to provide affordable and accessible e-Learning solutions to augment the education system in rural India. These educational devices paired with up-skilling the teachers by providing them with teacher-training programs on online education and technology-based education would contribute to the expansion of digital learning in rural India.
Education is a doorway to a wider world and is a primary right of every citizen whether the child belongs to a high profile society or village area. Children are the future of our nation and it is crucial that they are provided with the necessary means and education to understand their potential. Education transforms children from ignorance to enlightenment, from shades of social backwardness to social improvement light, and a nation from underdevelopment to fast track social and economic development.
As Nelson Mandala states, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world’.
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