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How is digital divide impacting the Indian education system?

By Rahul Pathak,

The inequality in access to technology is clearly evident in our society. It is triggered by various factors.

Nowadays, access to digital devices and internet connectivity is essential for gathering knowledge and information.

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched almost every facet of our lives. It has not only impacted the country’s economy in a major way and stagnated growth rates, but has also jeopardised the future of millions of students with schools shut indefinitely. 

According to some estimates, India accounts for the highest number of active students in the world. UNICEF data suggests that there are more than 1.5 million schools, 8.5 million teachers and 250 million children in the country. The lockdown has forced students to study online.  Moreover, these educational institutions have not been able to determine the date of reopening despite growing concerns among students, parents and other stakeholders over the prolonged effects of lockdown on the education system. It is in this context that an understanding of the impact of a pandemic on school education, with a special emphasis on digitally deprived children gains importance.  

Though India’s school educational system constitutionally guarantees universal education, it has not been able to deliver the promise due to structural imbalances concerning class, caste, language, region, gender and developmental divide and other factors. One of the factors that has impacted the education sector in the post pandemic era is digital divide. The inequality in access to technology is clearly evident in our society. Poverty, inadequate infrastructure, resistance to new technology, illiteracy, gender imbalance are other factors contributing mainly to the digital divide. Here is an in-depth look into the ways this phenomenon is affecting the education system.  

Access to Information becomes limited 
It is important for students to have proper access to information to advance their learning and growth. Nowadays, access to digital devices and internet connectivity is essential for gathering knowledge and information. However, a large cross section of Indian students can’t afford both due to poverty. So their access to essential information becomes limited, leading to compromised learning quality.  

Leads to unfair competition 
Most educational institutions are increasingly employing the use of digital technologies to enhance learning experience among students. However, students without digital devices and internet access are not able reap the benefits of these new-age technologies. This leads to unfair competition, giving an edge to those who are digitally equipped.  

Learning experience becomes compromised 
Internet has provided students with the convenience of assessing schooling material online. However, people from thelower rung of the socio-economic ladder are deprived of this facility. They have to resort to slow and cumbersome lerning processes. 

Affects productivity  
In this digital world, it is important to be well-versed with technological advancements to simplify our day-to-day activities and make life easier. However, people from the not-so-privileged communities do not have access to technology, which directly impacts their productivity and competitiveness in today’s time.  

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