By Prof. (Dr.) Dhrubajyoti Chattopadhyay
Vice-Chancellor - Sister Nivedita University, Kolkata
India is a diverse country and this diversity is our strength. In a country like India there are numerous challenges in almost every domain. When it comes to education it becomes even greater. With limited resources and limited infrastructure, making education inclusive is a challenge. With the pandemic of COVID 19 things have become even more difficult. Education has never seen challenge like this but still we are facing that challenge with equal dexterity as we did earlier. We all know that we are now digital, this word is bit misleading because when we say all, we mean entire country. But truly only a part of the country is digital, being digital does not mean only using smartphones, social media and being online, being digital is a lot more than that. When we say an economy to be digital it means that every citizen uses online medium to meet their daily requirements right from paying cash for petty expenses to undertaking smart contracts. It means the economy has requisite infrastructure in terms of hardware, software & connectivity provided to every citizen in urban and rural areas. Unfortunately in our country only a certain percentage uses this facility and other especially the persons residing in rural and remote areas has very limited access and sometimes no access. Prior to this pandemic offline mode of education was taking care especially in remote locations but now when online mode of education has gained momentum, it is creating a digital divide. This digital divide is a really a big challenge in digitally diverse India.
Government is taking a lot of initiatives to bridge the digital gap. It has plans to expand the IT infrastructure and develop connectivity across India through Public Private Partnership model. It has plans to tie with service providers and leading tech giants. The government has decided to frame a governing body which would be responsible in training the teachers and students in this online medium in various places including rural and remote areas. Disruptive technologies like AI, Advanced Cognitive learning tools would be utilized in making education more appealing to the students. The New Education Policy aims not only bridging the digital divide but revamping the whole education process thereby changing the entire education landscape.
However we need to understand that only government effort is not enough we all need to be aware of the problem and contribute as per our capacity. Big corporate houses should come forward and take the initiatives of developing schools and colleges of a particular remote area so that education can reach to the students of that area. We can spend a portion of our time in teaching underprivileged children and if possible engage students of higher classes to teach students of lower classes in remote areas. Business magnets can donate for developing IT infrastructure of a particular rural area which will help in bringing the light of education to them. This pandemic has taught us to value our relationships; to understand what is more important in life and to gain an insight that nothing in this world is permanent. By contributing in the field of education we can actually serve thousands of young minds and is most noble form of contribution. Our collective effort would help in making education inclusive and at the same time training the young minds to be a part of the future workforce.