Need for online education to ensure equitable education

online education
The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu addressing after virtually releasing the book titled “Future of Higher Education – Nine Megatrends”, brought out by ICT Academy, through video conferencing, in New Delhi on June 30, 2020. Image Source: PIB

On 30th June, the Honourable Vice President, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu released a book, ‘Future of Education-Nine Megatrends’ virtually through a video conference. The book was brought out by ICT Academy, a non-profit society, and an initiative of the Government of India and the state governments.

On this occasion, he called for bridging the digital divide to achieve universal primary education and ensure equitable secondary and higher education. He said, “technology opens up new possibilities but also makes us realize the big digital divide in our society”. 

Stressing the need to make technology or online education accessible and affordable, Shri Naidu pointed out that there were many children who did not have access to digital devices and added “We will have to address the issue of this wide gap”.

Shri Naidu said that many students are impacted due to the lockdown as they find it hard to study online. Many of these students need hand-holding to shift from offline to online and require proper training to pursue education through online modes.

He emphasized that many parents and guardians in our country still cannot afford a digital device, he said that bridging the digital divide was too big and complex for the government alone to accomplish the task and urged the private sector, especially educational technology firms to contextualize the products at affordable prices as per the needs of learners. “This is your time to make a momentous contribution to nation-building and to securing a bright future for all our children”, he added.

Quoting the Prime Minister, the Vice President said that in future “online should be mainline, so that there is no need for any line”. He appealed to all stakeholders to follow the PM’s three-word mantra of ‘Reform, Perform and Transform’ to create a better future.

With educational institutions going digital or promoting online education in the context of the pandemic, the Vice President said students and teachers were connecting through cloud-based platforms to communicate, share work, and complete projects. “Examinations are also being conducted online”, he added.

Observing that Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality will enter classrooms more rapidly, Shri Naidu said this would transform the way teachers teach and students learn.

He also urged the schoolteachers to impart teaching in tune with the changing requirements, the Vice President said that students can access machines anytime from anywhere in the wake of online laboratories. “The teacher now plays the role of a facilitator, guide, counselor, coach and many a time that of a friend to the student”, he added.

Observing that the huge demographic advantage is waiting to be converted into a demographic dividend, Shri Naidu said “we should not miss this opportunity. We should enhance access to knowledge and skills to all children so that each one of them realizes his or her innate potential”.

Highlighting the importance of value-based education, the Vice President called for developing a model of education that reflects Indian culture and ethos. “We need to inculcate cultural, moral, ethical and spiritual values among children”, he added.

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