Online Education in Rural India

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Online Education in Rural India

Counting all the complications that the outbreak of Corona brought in, halting the normal flow of life could take a while but the most challenging one was the hit that the educational sector received because of it. With schools shut, everyone was forced to shift to the online mode. With one part of the country complaining about how the online classes were not engaging enough the other part had to deal with a complete lack of education because they had no smartphones/laptops to access this digital mode of education. Through this blog, we aim to delve deeper into analysing the challenges of online education in rural India and how they can be possibly tackled.

ASER 2020 Statistics

To first analyse how e-learning in rural India is being facilitated, let’s take a look at some statistics on online education in rural areas. The ASER (Annual State of Education Report) 2020 reveals that 11% of the rural families bought smartphones in an effort to make education accessible to their children. 

Smartphone Availability

Year Households with children in govt. schools Households with children in pvt. schools
2018 29.6% 49.9%
2020 56.4% 74.2%
Source: ASER 2020

From this table, it’s clear that the access to smartphones increased considerably in the year 2020 amongst households whose children were enrolled in both govt. and pvt. schools. And this was a positive shift. Furthermore, the enrollment rate in government schools was higher than in private schools.

Enrollment Rate

Year Government Schools Private Schools
2018 64.3% 32.5%
2020 65.8% 28.8%
Source: ASER 2020

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The Lingering Question of Disparity

But if you sideline the statistics pertaining to e-learning and online education in rural India, the overall picture was quite alarming. Even if the enrollment rate got higher or if the availability of smartphones increased this doesn’t mean everyone had access to education. The educational disparity still remains and this gap was further widened because of the digital divide. During the pandemic, the community and families tried to provide learning support to their children but that wasn’t even close to enough. The ASER report 2020 also threw light on the fact that how the access to online resources remains considerably low among government school children when compared with those studying in private schools. For instance, if access to online material was 28.7% among private school children then it was a mere 18.3% among government children. The disparity is clearly visible. 

When various initiatives were launched to make e-learning materials available to school children, two-thirds of the household reported that they didn’t receive any such aid from schools or the local government. Without any access to such materials or online resources, 60% of these students resorted to using textbooks as the only mode through which they could acquire education. In rural areas of states like Bihar, U.P., Rajasthan, etc., access to learning materials was almost negligible. Forcing us to ask the question that online education in rural India was anything more than a myth. 

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The Way Forward

So in a sense, the ASER 2020 has drawn the attention of the masses and the government towards the key issue that needs to be addressed. The various initiatives to facilitate online education in rural India have been launched by the government and are doing their bit but they are apparently not enough to make a considerable difference. This data calls for more investment in the field of education so that this problem of disparity in education could be tackled head-on. Identifying the problem is the first step and then comes the efforts to remove those problems. The government of India has started making efforts in the right direction but can be said to have succeeded only when online education becomes accessible to everyone in the rural areas of the county. 

Hence, e-learning and online education in rural India still has many barriers and challenges that can only be overcome with efficient planning and management on the behalf of regional, state and central governments. Stay tuned to Leverage Edu experts for more updates on this topic as well as news happenings in the global educational sphere!

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