Empowering Girl Child Through Digital Education
The IT industry has often acknowledged the importance of digital literacy in the empowerment of girls and women.
Helen Keller once said, “the degree of a nation’s civilization may be measured by the degree of enlightenment of its women.” And if we look at the developed nations of the world, her statement holds true.
Historically, girls have received less priority and support in the way of education, across the globe. But this disparity between boys and girls is especially apparent in developing nations, like India. This is due, in part, to the cultural mindset, especially in more rural areas, wherein girls are expected to learn homemaking skills, rather than receive a formal education.
However, we have seen a marked improvement in education and literacy rates among girls in India over the last three decades. In fact, a study by the Observer Research Foundation asserts that the female literacy rate has improved by over 33% since 1987.2 In recent years, digital technologies have further accelerated initiatives for women’s education, allowing girls to access information, develop digital skills, and uncover new opportunities.
Digital Education – A Stepping Stone for Women’s Empowerment
Around the world, digital education has become the key to continuous learning. The rapid shift to remote education during the COVID-19 pandemic is a testament to the importance of digital tools in the classroom. Especially in countries like India, having access to digital technologies and online education can be the first step to social and economic empowerment for female students.
Digital literacy fosters creativity, develops critical thinking, improves problem solving, and facilitates the overall development of female students. Furthermore, digital tools, such as high-resolution projectors, smartboards, internet connectivity and tablets, empower girls with a safe and connected environment in which they can flourish.
However, there are still numerous challenges that disrupt the implementation of digital tools and place students from different backgrounds at a disadvantage.
Roadblocks to Accessing Digital Education
The biggest roadblocks to digital education in India are poverty, lack of resources, and societal stereotypes, among others. While students in urban areas have adapted to the new normal of online learning, digital accessibility remains a challenge for students in more rural areas.
Several government initiatives have been launched to combat this gap in accessibility, including BetiBachao, BetiPadhao, e-Vidhya, DIKSHA and Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. These programs are geared toward breaking down socioeconomic barriers and promoting the holistic development of female students.
How IT Firms Have Become Champions of Education
The IT industry has often acknowledged the importance of digital literacy in the empowerment of girls and women. Powered by government initiatives, IT organizations are focusing their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs on supporting digital education. These organizations are providing various technologies to students, conducting outreach to underprivileged regions, and offering accessible digital platforms to support remote learning. Previously, many IT organizations were focused on promoting health, building up underserved communities and developing soft skills in students. However, the focus has now shifted almost entirely to educating students digitally.
Newgen Software has also contributed extensively to the cause through their CSR initiatives, including the Newgen Digital Discovery Paathshala (NDDP) wherein, they conduct digital learning sessions and online career counselling sessions, which ensure that students continue to learn and develop, even outside the classroom and after their schooling.
The Way Forward
Education is unequivocally one of the most important factors in the development of young girls, and access to digital tools seems to be the key to ensuring uninterrupted learning for female students, regardless of their background or environment.
Government agencies and IT organizations are actively working together to provide a digital infrastructure that promotes digital literacy, bridges the gender gap in education and promotes the rights of girls and women.
The ultimate key to continued improvement in female literacy and education rates in India, and by proxy female empowerment, is a persistent effort to ensure that girls have equal access to education, digital tools, and holistic support - in terms of school, personality development, health, and future planning. The girls of India have the potential to become the self-sufficient and intelligent leaders of tomorrow, and access to digital education is the first step in their journey.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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