Authored by Saurabh Parmar (Writer at Aim to Sustain Foundation)
On April 14, India entered the second phase of lockdown, yet no remedy seems to be available for us. Well, let’s hope that things change for good very soon.
The new normal has certainly transformed the way we used to live, ranging from our shopping habits to our access to society. In this very context, access to education has become a significant topic of discussion for now.
Many of our school curriculums and college lectures are being transformed online. But here stands a contrasting picture that tells us that online education would be a half-success in our country.
a) India’s digital divide is the biggest hindrance in achieving India’s dream of Digital India. The data from TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) presents a very sad picture. In this case, those who don’t possess resources to access the online education module are already out of the race. EWS students, especially in this case, face a severe disadvantage. They don’t possess smartphones and unlimited data packs. This difference between have’s and have-not’s will certainly defeat the RTE‘s vision of making education accessible and affordable to all.
b) India’s structural capacity in terms of unreliable net connection is also a troublesome issue, which is further combined with the lagging speed and low-quality video transmission. Not many areas have mobile network towers in their vicinity. And those that have it face overuse of the spectrum availability. Surely, players like JIO have changed the telecom landscape massively, but it still remains a buffering issue for high-speed internet users.
c) Privacy issues with video conferencing apps are also rampant. People and experts have raised their objections about a variety of apps that have been brought to limelight because of security threats. Apps like Zoom which have taken centre-stage in this lockdown have been attacked with the claims of serious cyber-ills, like live stream hacking. Another worrying report was presented by the cybersecurity intelligence firm, Cybele, that testified that over 500,000 Zoom accounts are being sold on the dark web and hacker forums. In such a case, data privacy and personal identity credentials become a cause of concern.
d) The rampant digital illiteracy of teachers and students also comes into foreplay when we talk of e-education. In this regard, many face technical difficulties that can take precedent over their access to online education.
e) Psychological issues like discipline and lack of classroom-like environment also play a crucial role in learning as well as a teaching methodology.
This article only aims to point out the existing challenges in accessing education through online modes, not to criticize the e-learning method. The author supports the lockdown measures and supports the Corona fight.