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One for all, All for one: Taking digital education Home.

Using tablets to facilitate education for rural girls during COVID-19 pandemic

It’s been 6-months that COVID-19 pandemic has put the nation-wide activities on a halt. And, studies show that the virus spread still has to reach its peak. Due to Covid-19, the social activities based on direct interaction are largely on a standstill the digital economy constructed through the internet has become the mainstay of the global social and economic interactions- be it business or education. Undeniably the lockdown created an unpredicted pressure on the system to succour the education of nearly 300 million children across 1.4 million schools in the country. The concept of education changed overnight and in these times of crisis, digital learning has emerged as an indispensable resource for education.
But there is a huge divide on access to this technology. According to the World Bank, only 34 of every 100 Indians have access to the internet meaning nearly 7 of every 10 Indian is out of the digital world. It is necessary to arrest this at this point or a large section of our society will be left behind.
There is also a gender divide. The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020 released in March by GSMA, an association of industry organization representing interests of mobile network operators worldwide say that while 79% of men own a mobile phone in the country, the number for women is 63%.
The gender gap in mobile internet users is a huge 50%, it states. Access to phones and the internet is not just an economic factor but also social and cultural. If one family has just one phone, there is a good chance that the wife or the daughter will be the last one to use it.
The foremost the expectation is to bring the rural girl child of these villages into the mainstream of the education system by providing them digital education. Apart from not having access to the internet and smartphone, the majority of these girls come from families that themselves lack education. Disruption of schools has completely cut them off from the education system.

However, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has created immediate and unprecedented challenges in the field of education.
Considering poor access to the Internet and personal computers/laptops/ tablets for a large majority of rural households, PPES teachers primarily use the cross-platform messaging WhatsApp to post learning content and assignments on a daily basis. Students also submit their completed assignments via WhatsApp. For students who are able to access the Zoom video conferencing app, teachers conduct live online classes.

Despite the commitment and sustained efforts of the management and staff, Pardada Pardadi Education Society’s online learning initiative has been marred by several impediments including students’ inability to log into the online class owing to issues such as lack of proper meals, lack of help and support from parents, the need to babysit younger siblings, among others. Also, unavailability of smartphones and no access to proper internet connection are also, the major factors making the situation worse.
To know more about the challenges faced by these rural girls, please read this article.

FAQs

  1. Money instead of tablets: We can buy them from a trusted supplier in India and ensure the quality.
  2. Courier charges: We don’t want any further cost to be incurred by the donor.
  3. Import tax: If we receive a large shipment of tablets, we will have to pay import tax and they will be caught up in red tape at customs and will cause lots of delays and we want to distribute them to the students asap.
  4. Ownership, will the students own the tablets?: We will own them but allocate them to the students for that year.
  5. Are girls trained to use the tablets: We will be providing training sessions on how best to use them
  6. Can teachers take online classes: Yes, we will be utilising zoom or google meets to deliver the lessons.
  7. What are the safety measures for tablets: Prior to distribution we will have our IT consultant set them up with various settings and applications.
  8. Will the tabs be insured: Yes they will be insured.


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