Amidst Covid-19, an air of change in the Indian education system
Even as digital education works effectively as a stopgap arrangement to ensure an uninterrupted flow of education for three to four months while keeping children and young adults safe from the risk of being infected, its position as a bankable substitute to a near-obsolete education system, in the long run, has been bolstered
As the number of novel Coronavirus cases around the world continue to rise at an alarming average of 1 lakh per day, many countries are in the midst of a tight lockdown. India is one of them. Even as this global pandemic forces millions to stay indoors and re-assess essentials needed of sustenance, one of the hardest hit has been taken by the education sector. As per UNESCO projections, measures being taken to contain the Covid-19 transmission can impact 290 million students worldwide. The UN body describes it as “a figure without precedent”, and aptly so.
But as the adage goes – every cloud has a silver lining, and for millions of students, educators and administrators, it has been discovering the potential of online learning. Realising that most students may not be able to resume classes in schools and colleges until the end of summer, more and more institutions are exploring the ways to make learning accessible to students, be it in the K-12 segment or higher education, in the comfort and safety of their homes.
Several ed-tech firms have risen to these challenging times as they offer their content to students on heavy discounts and in some cases free of cost. The government too is doing its bit to facilitate e-learning through its platform SWAYAM. A wide range of online courses catering to school, college and university students have been made available here free of cost in wake of the Coronavirus lockdown. The portal that was set up nearly two-and-a-half years back has upgraded its repository to cater to 1,900 different courses to ease learning in the times of an unprecedented pandemic. These are divided into categories such as NCERT textbooks, secondary, senior secondary courses, engineering courses, non-engineering courses, and e-books for students.
The students are also leveraging this new window of opportunity optimally. While the SWAYAM portal recorded 19,000 unique hits within a week, a section of ed-tech start-ups have witnessed up to 25% growth in e-learning. The easily accessible, on-the-go, affordable access to learning opportunities offered by e-learning has fast emerged as a viable alternative to traditional classroom learning in these difficult times. Given the interactive nature of e-learning modules, these help students of all ages and levels of learning to grasp the course content more effectively even in the comfort of their homes and without the physical presence of a teacher.
Can the space for e-learning carved out by a mandatory lockdown pave way for a long-overdue overhaul of the education system in India? Only time will tell. Before e-learning becomes the new normal for the education sector in India, it has many challenges to tide over – availability of uninterrupted power and internet connectivity, a change in mindsets, and an overhaul of curriculums, to name a few.
That said this lockdown has undoubtedly made experts evaluate the traditional mode of imparting education in the country. Even as digital education works effectively as a stopgap arrangement to ensure an uninterrupted flow of education for three to four months while keeping children and young adults safe from the risk of being infected, its position as a bankable substitute to a near-obsolete education system, in the long run, has been bolstered.
E-learning making inroads into mainstream education has been a forgone conclusion for some time now. This unlikely opportunity for online learning modules to shine will help speed along that process, ushering in an era of customised learning solutions, smarter ed-tech tolls, smaller screens and more relevant course content. When that happens, the novel Coronavirus breakout and the ensuing lockdown will be seen as a point of inflection for e-learning and the ed-tech sector in India.
Authored Amit Shrivastava, CTO and Co-founder, KopyKitab
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