Different Viewpoints on Digital Divide

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By Education Today

Posted on April 9, 2022


4 min read

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Different Viewpoints on Digital Divide

The COVID 19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown that followed undoubtedly affected the educational sector in India in multiple ways. The pandemic has engendered a generation of students who haven’t experienced what it is to be in school and college. The wounds inflicted by the pandemic are still afresh in most of us.
Despite the initial hiccups in adapting to the virtual mode many of us might have experienced relatively hassle-free learning during the lockdown. However, on a larger canvas, the picture was not so bright. Numerous challenges ranging from the enduring digital divide that rendered online education impossible for many to issues at home and pressures of social isolation affected the learning process. The sudden shift was challenging to teachers as well. The quality of student-teacher interaction was a major problem. Though teachers were putting in maximum effort, the newness of the method had its impact.
That said, it’s important not to undermine the other side of the coin. Since we have traversed a long way battling against the pandemic, overlooking the several avenues opened up by the virtual model in the educational sector will be a mistake. Taking sensible and inclusive steps to advance a hybrid model of learning is, thus, the need of the hour.

T. Amiya, MA Graduate (2019-21), Institute of English, University of Kerala

The sudden arrival of the pandemic followed by the transplantation of the educational system from traditional classrooms to online platforms has created a huge mess. I’ve seen many children around my residence, from poor economic backgrounds struggling to get access to online education. It was not easy for them to afford and get used to these gadgets. This rapid change has put both teachers and students in a state of dilemma. 
Poor network connections was a huge issue. Many students found it hard to find a comfortable learning position. When television became the source of education for school students, parents were struggling to get a cable TV connection. The economic insecurity created at this pandemic time affected many homes badly. 
Many schools and political groups took initiative to provide gadgets and other facilities to many students. But that was not enough to meet every needy one. In short, economically stable society got the juicy part and the weaker section became the pain bearers. 

Anamika Somaraj, B.Ed student, SNTC Nedunganda

One of the massive challenges that the post-pandemic world faces is the limited knowledge of parents and students about the appropriate uses of digital technology. Considering the alarmingly increasing rate of cyber crimes in our country, informative classes should be provided to parents along with students. Since online education happens in and around the area of residence of the student, parents should be responsible and aware of the way in which their children are using this medium, and guide them at least in time of their basic education. This is not only recommended for an easy and smooth education system but also for controlling the cyber crimes happening around us.

Anashwarath Saradha, Faculty, GHSS Pattikad (Translated by Megha Elza John)

The economic, social and health sector of India had a terrible confrontation with the Covid 19 virus. The education system froze while the pandemic hit and over 140 crores of students’ education came to a halt according to UNICEF, out of which 30 crores are Indians. This also affected the rural population of Kerala, just like any other place.
The closing down of educational institutions and the shift of classes from traditional classrooms to online platforms was the result of the digital change in the existing education system. The Government of Kerala initiated a plan called “First Bell” where classes restarted in schools via Victor channel in the television. Even though this thoughtful step helped in the continuation of classes, there was a parallel line that posed problems for the underprivileged at the same time. Students who had no access to television or mobile phones were left out of the digital classrooms. Rural areas in districts like Idukki and Wayanad were hugely affected by this because most of the families residing there work for minimum wages. Communities like the Adivasi tribals, who should be encouraged to come forward are once again pushed to the void. 
Even though digital methods advanced the way of learning and the technological skills of teaching faculties, the digital gap between children who have access to technology and the other, widened. This divide can also be seen as the violation of their fundamental right to education. This can hinder national development and may lead to bigger problems in the future. India advanced in its technologies but to what extent it reaches the lower strata of society decides the magnitude of digital divide our country faces. 

Johnson John, B.Ed student, STCTE Thodupuzha (Translated by Megha Elza John)