Building a sustainable digital literacy movement in rural India through innovation

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By Sandeep Arya

With the growing influence of technology on learning, the patterns and methods of education have seen a tectonic shift. The days of reading books have rapidly metamorphosed into an age of scanning through interactive learning devices for information.

The avenue of digital devices has vastly contributed to the growth and proliferation of digital learning as a viable learning option. While children living in the urban areas of India get to enjoy the benefits of digital education, and get to move from strength to strength, their rural counterparts struggle to make-do with the bulky books and the promise of digital classrooms.

The SDG-4 of the Sustainable Development Goal focuses on ensuring quality education for sustainable development. Hence, in a country like India, where there are over six lakh state-run schools, it is imperative to straddle the headwind of the digital wave to transform the education delivery model in India.

The Internet has immense potential to improve the quality of education, and improve learning outcomes. Nevertheless, the lack of internet penetration restricts the growth potential of this opportunity. With no-or-low access to the internet, the relevance of digital classrooms and digital education holds barely any relevance in the rural context. In a rural scenario, the lack of fundamental internet infrastructure prevents worthy students from enjoying the benefits of such facilities that will broaden their horizons, and provide them with a competitive advantage on the world stage.

The right motivation to address the situation in such scenarios can be to ensure the availability of basic facilities such as, adequate classroom facilities, timely motivational programs for teachers and adoption of new technological advances to keep the students engaged. Interactive learning facilitated by digitalization can make learning in classrooms interesting, resulting in students to attend school regularly, even in remote areas.

Although, the Government of India has taken necessary measures in the direction of providing education to all by emphasizing on policies such as digital boards and smart classes, inclusive growth can never be achieved without proper execution at the grassroots. However, most of the technologies for smart classes lack a 360-degree mechanism to monitor the performance of the child on a consistent basis at the local and state level, without any manual intervention.

It is very difficult to get genuine data of progress for each student regularly. Hence, a digital solution needs to be implemented that can deliver quality education locally and can provide data to a cloud for monitoring the progress of students. The Rajasthan government has implemented one such futuristic step towards embracing technology for education.

A revolutionary solution that enables instant formative assessment of learning outcomes in class. The solution overcomes connectivity barriers by enabling local delivery of lectures digitally, without depending on the Internet. Moreover, it challenges outdated learning methodologies and introduces flexibility in classroom learning while enabling students to learn at their own pace, all the while facilitating ease-of-learning with audio-visual aid.

One of the most important facets of such innovative technology is its ability to allow educationists to deliver education material in a controlled and responsible manner, while monitoring the learning progress of the individual student, by streaming content that aids classroom learning.

It is also worth mentioning that while there has been a spike in the literacy rate over the years, only a few states have been able to create a significant difference. While universal access to primary education has seen a marked improvement in enrolment in the six-to-fourteen year age bracket, the dropout rates remain very high. The quality of school education measured by key learning outcomes remains poor as per the latest U-DISE report.

Until the time we address the challenges of educational inequality at the grassroots, it would be virtually impossible to take India to the next level and towards being a developed nation. Such solutions will also help erase the divide between the rural and the urban India. In order to witness change at the grassroots education system, we need to look at alternative solutions that are concurrently simple, cost-effective and cutting-edge, that can be easily delivered across the length and breadth of the country.

About the Author: Sandeep Arya, Chairman & CEO, Chhota Internet

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this feature are entirely their own and does not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR Network and its Editor.

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