Digital Learning Helps Save 2020 From Becoming A Void Year For Students But Challenges Remain: Reports

The ASSOCHAM-Primus Partners Survey was conducted with 466 students and 483 teachers across various states in India.

As the world went in a lockdown amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the educational institution had to be shut down and embrace online learning. The ASSOCHAM-Primus Partners Survey was conducted with 466 students and 483 teachers across various states in India. The survey analyzed the current online readiness and challenges faced by students, teachers and the education ecosystem, including private and Government schools and colleges. 

To successfully navigate a lockdown and ensure education continuity, there is a need for India to readily adapt and develop resilience towards transforming our challenges into opportunities. We now have the opportunity to gradually move towards a digital (r)evolution for our education systems, according to the respondents of an ASSOCHAM-Primus Partners' joint survey. At the same time, homes cannot replace schools or colleges, as 88 per cent of students reported they are missing peer-teacher interaction, sports, arts and physical activities during the lockdown. 

The report of the survey findings also explored the availability of infrastructure to conduct remote, online or virtual classes. While 89 per cent of all respondents have had access to resources, their institutions were not sufficiently supportive with their remote or online learning strategy. The report finds that 51 per cent of teacher respondents found it difficult to clarify the doubts of students through remote/ online classes.  

The report also highlights that the deployment of educational services has not been uniform. While on one end, students who are financially supported are more likely to have a greater number of teaching hours and private schools and universities supporting the digitisation, those that belong to economically lower sections of society have few to no hours in government institutions that are not digitally integrated. Teacher capacity is a critical success factor and while the reliance on alternate means to impart learning is very high, the survey revealed 17 per cent of government teacher respondents were trained to conduct remote/ online classes, as compared to 44 per cent of teachers from private institutions. 

The Survey revealed that the most common mode of content dissemination was either through live online classrooms or documents like assignments and worksheets sent through either email or WhatsApp. It was observed that both government and private institutes share similar trends in terms of the mode they use to disseminate academic content. The pandemic highlighted the challenges to the definition of digital learning … online submission of tests is not digital learning… it is a much more complex ecosystem which would require much more resources and strategy. 

“COVID-19 has challenged the very premise of our schooling provision. To transition to digital systems which make learning viable we need to innovate Edtech models responsibly to honour 'no child left behind' in letter, spirit and action,” said Primus Partners, Managing Director, Charu Malhotra. 

She said access to digital infrastructure will define the digital divide unless steps are taken to resource the reform. 

The ASSOCHAM-Primus Partners' joint survey report stated that recent government announcements have sought to augment the capacity of the education system, to enable the digitalisation of learning. So while the digital industry looks at this challenge as an opportunity, the government should consider this opportunity to further private participation in a PPP framework that packs professional management in an end-to-end comprehensible learning solution.   

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