A country’s growth is governed by many factors, and education is one of them. While schools in the urban areas are complemented by state-of-the-art infrastructure, facilities, and teachers; schools in the rural areas struggle with necessary facilities like toilets and lack a proper teaching staff. Needless to say, this results in a reduced sense of motivation among students and is a significant cause of poor quality of education in rural schools.
Despite 85% of the government schools being in villages, students in rural areas rarely get the quality education that could benefit them. This leads to a loss of potential talent which could have contributed to the progress of the country. Keeping in mind the fact that numerous successful IAS aspirants are from rural areas, there are no limits to what these students could achieve if they are given access to quality education.
To battle this imminent problem, many non-profit organizations like eVidyaloka are now trying to improve the quality learning by bringing online education to rural classrooms. Their prime purpose is to bring about a knowledgeable and empowered rural India through the provision of quality education. The “each one, teach one” ideology encourages educated professionals to take time out of their schedules to deliver online lectures to students from rural areas.
The students thus not only get the quality education they lack, but they also get taught by teachers who are enthusiastic about teaching, which also goes a long way in boosting their morale. Online education enhances the learning outcome of students through learning modules that are focused on their classroom syllabus.
The language also poses a barrier when it comes to teaching in rural areas. NGOs, however, have overcome this barrier through an active tutor management program that focuses on taking on volunteers who are comfortable teaching in the local language, although it might not be their medium of instruction during their school days!
The government has also played a significant role in bringing about an educational reform through online learning. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has recently launched three initiatives – Swayam, Swayam Prabha, and National Academic Depository, which aim to take the e-learning sector in India to the next level. At the inauguration of these initiatives, former President Pranab Mukherjee talked about how digital technology can enable excellent teachers to directly teach a large number of students who are not physically present in classes. The interactive learning experience will thus allow students in the remote parts of the country to benefit from lectures delivered by highly qualified teachers.
Swayam and Swayam Prabha are a rendition of digital classrooms that enable students from rural areas to connect either through the Internet or direct-to-home service and access educational content. Swayam offers courses through digital classes, and the study material is available online in the form of videos. Everything is available free of cost; however, students who want certificates will need to get registered.
India’s Chief Economic Advisor, Arvind Subramanian has also prepared a series of lectures on the Indian economy which can be accessed via Swayam and Swayam Prabha. The course structure of these online and digital classrooms will cover every aspect of education from class nine onwards, and will also include preparatory courses for competitive exams, including modules for preparation of IITs and IAS exams.
If not Internet, then DTH:
For the remote areas which still lack the facilities of a stable Internet connection, the Government will use alternative methods of communication. Swayam Prabha aims to tap into the potential utilization of Direct-to-Home (DTH) Service, and plans are already in place for setting up of a dish antenna that would give students access to 32 educational channels run by the HRD ministry. According to Dr. Pankaj Mittal, the Additional Secretary in UGC, these channels will broadcast new content of a duration of at least four hours, and this would be repeated five more times in a day, thus allowing students to view this content according to their convenience.
The online classrooms offered by government and non-profit organizations alike work towards one common goal: to provide equal quality of education to students in rural areas. These classroom programs are bridging the gap in quality education, and are thus empowering these students to do more with their lives. Thanks to these active initiatives, students in rural areas are also becoming aware of the variety of career paths they could follow, a privilege that they’d never had before.
Methods of teaching and learning processes make all the difference when it comes to education. These are also the main factors responsible for the stark contrast in the quality of education in the rural and urban areas. Online education can bridge this gap and bring to rural students the education they most rightly deserve.