ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Use of Technology in Addressing Disruptions in Education 

Technology changed the dispensation of education during the COVID-19 pandemic and contributed to maintaining some continuity in learning even for children from marginalised groups such as the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe communities. Drawing insights from India’s experience during the pandemic in Haryana and Jharkhand, the study reveals how technology facilitated educational continuity for such children. It also uncovers associated challenges such as learning loss, digital divides, and infrastructural gaps.

 

This article is an outcome of a research study funded by NITI Aayog in 2022–23.

The authors are grateful to Alakh N Sharma, Director and G C Manna at the Institute for Human Development (IHD) for their guidance to the study. Valuable comments for the questionnaire were received from Jean Drèze and Anuradha De. The fi eld work was carried out by Subodh Kumar and B K N Singh of IHD.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to edu­cation, leading institutions to tran­sition from physical to remote learning. Technology played a pivotal role in countering learning loss and enhancing global and Indian learning outcomes. Various technological tools ensured continual educational access, engagement, and quality. Approximately 320 million Indian students were affected, spurring the shift to online classes with platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, television, and WhatsApp. Initiatives like Swayam Prabha TV, e-Pathshala, and Diksha portal reshaped education (UNESCO 2021). The National Education Policy 2020 emphasised “Equitable and Inclusive Education,” addressing disparities, especially for disadvantaged students and females. Studies revealed the pandemic’s unequal impact, notably on marginalised groups, and the Indian digital divide was evident with rural–urban and gender disparities (IHD and UNICEF 2021; Roy 2021; Pokhrel and Chhetri 2021; Dash et al 2022). As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5)  (2019–21) data, access to the internet in India is notably skewed across gender, rural–urban and social groups. Only one-third of women (33%) have ever accessed the internet, in contrast to over half of men (57%). The digital divide is even more pronounced in rural India, where men are almost twice as likely as women to have utilised the internet (49% versus 25%). Additionally, across social groups, those belonging to Scheduled Castes (SCs) (48%) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) (39%) exhibit considerably lower internet accessibility in comparison to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) (54%) and General Caste (64%). Despite these challenges, the pandemic illuminated transformative learning opportunities for marginalised groups through technology (Behal and Kalia 2023; Dayal S 2023). This article delves into the contribution of techno­logy, citing India-specific examples for vulnerable groups. Lessons learned can inform future efforts to utilise digital technology for widespread education during similar crises like natural disasters and conflicts.

Data and Methodology

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Updated On : 24th Jan, 2024
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