INCLUSIVE DIGITAL EDUCATION:
Right to education is the fundamental right under Article 21A for primary education at least. The pandemic spread by COVID-19, has pushed the country towards digital education. However, the bigger question is, is digital education inclusive?
Prerequisite for digital education:
Digitally compatible device:
To avail the classes one needs to have a mobile/ computer/ laptop in order to have access to the online classes.
As per National Sample Survey data from 2017, only 6% rural households and 25% urban households have a computer. Though the data is old, it is still reflective of the situation.
Another survey by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the Azim Premji Foundation, ASER and Oxfam found that between 27% and 60%of students could not access online classes for a range of reasons: lack of devices, shared devices, inability to buy “data packs”, etc.
Reliable Internet Connection:
Need of reliable internet is important for availing online classes.
As per the survey conducted by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the Azim Premji Foundation, ASER and Oxfam, lack of stable connectivity jeopardises their evaluations.
Better Learning Environment:
Many students lack a peaceful learning environment at home. For example, nearly 25% Indians lived in single-room dwellings in 2017-19.
Girls have an additional expectation of doing the household chores along with studies.
Peer Learning has taken a back.
Poverty and out of pocket expenditure:
Abysmally low expenditure on health, have led to increase in out of pocket expenditure of the poor, especially if they are impacted by the Coronavirus virus.
Lack of electricity:
In rural areas there is lack of electricity for whole days, and the poor class is unable to get inverters etc. this also impacts inclusive education.
Thus with the present stage of digital penetration and digital divide, it is unlikely to achieve inclusive education. though digital education may act complementary to offline education but not suplementary.