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Pandemic’s Introduction To EduTech Reducing Education Disparity Amongst The Differently Abled

While the whole world is now innovating newer ideas which has brought us closer through a digital platform, it has surely brought in a huge change in the lives of the differently-abled.

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While the Pandemic has caused a stir not just affecting the routine lifestyles and the economic turmoil that it has shown up, what’s exciting is the number of years it has pushed us to ahead in time. What would have us numerous years to achieve, the Pandemic has exposed us to bring in the best to achieve in such less time span. The whole exchange of information that has suddenly gone digital has made our lives go digital in less than a year and most of it can be seen in various sectors especially Education. The entire education system went from a phase of realization and learning during the Pandemic.  

While the whole world is now innovating newer ideas which has brought us closer through a digital platform, it has surely brought in a huge change in the lives of the differently-abled. The remote learning capacity that has been developed by most of the institutions has offered a better opportunity for closing in the gap of gender disparity especially amongst the differently-abled. As per the recent report by BARC and Nielsen, there has been a 30 per cent increase in the time spent on education apps on smartphones since the lockdown. What is even more enticing is that Edtech segment saw an increase in user visits by 26 per cent between April 2019 and March 2020, as compared to the same period from 2018-19, according to a report by similarweb.com.  

The Children With Special Needs are disadvantaged even under normal circumstances. Their illiteracy rate stands at 45%, much more than the general average of 26%. The India Report Digital Education, June 2020 released on Remote Learning Initiative Across India by the Department of School Education & Literacy Ministry of Human Resource Development, GOI various documents the remote learning initiatives through digital technology across the country. It documents how technology has been a force multiplier in with the implementation of various e-learning platforms that have been imparting education to students throughout India.  The report highlights the initiative that has been taken for the differently-abled students through One DTH channel that is being operated specifically for hearing impaired students in sign language. For visually and hearing impaired students, study material has been developed in Digitally Accessible Information System (DAISY) and in sign language; both are available on NIOS website/ YouTube. 

While social inclusiveness was a grave challenge in the past for the differently-abled students there have been multiple initiatives listed in the report above which highlight the ease of education not just for the mainstream candidates but the differently-abled too. The report clearly highlights the need to ensure equitable access to learning results in learning outcomes, and that the teaching and learning cycle, can continue in face of any disruption is essential. PM eVidya offers a framework for a learning continuum so that the teaching and learning process is enabled beyond physical school boundaries for students across the country, including in under-resourced communities and for learners with special needs and the differently-abled. This initiative has broken the long gone challenge where Education is now a right to one and all especially in case of the differently-abled candidates.  

There is also another brilliant initiative that has been mentioned in the report on Online inclusive Education for CWSN (Hum Kisi se Kam Nahi- Mera Ghar Meri Pathshala). This initiative is embraced with the campaign Har Ghar Pathshala inclusive learning environment. Keeping in mind the special needs of differently-abled students, WhatsApp groups of CWSN created by the District inclusive Education coordinator cater to the educational, psychological and physiological needs. This campaign has been named as “Hum Kisi se Kam Nahi- Mera Ghar Meri Pathshala’’. The content is being shared through WhatsApp groups where special educator assigns homework for the children. The special educator provides guidance to the parents regarding home-teaching in this programme.  

Access to all resources and reducing the social divide amongst the mainstream students and the differently-abled through Virtual Learning Experience has certainly played a huge role. According to census reports, there are approximately 2.68 crore persons with disabilities in India, i.e. 2.21% of the total population. Many global estimates, in fact, reveal that the number could be as high as 18% of the total population. The State of Education Report for India 2019 states that there are 7,864,636 children with disabilities in India. Out of these, 61% aged between 5 and 19 were attending educational institutions. The whole digitised education experience has changed the entire societal dynamics offering know-how to all students reducing class, caste, gender, religion, linguistics, region and ableism to merely just jargons which no longer exist. 

Even though there might be a few roadblocks in the learning capabilities and the adoption of the EduTech Infrastructure, one must note that the EdTech system is here to stay and the adoption of these is the only way to bring in the social inclusiveness for the differently-abled students. Virtual Space will slowly steadily bring in the equity in future generations for sure.   

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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pandemic Edutech Education Disparity differently abled

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