07 March, 2021

Missing Connect

India’s internet infrastructure is grossly unprepared to support a wholesale shift of learning online

Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari
Missing Connect

Ever since the pandemic stalled normal life six months ago—including the busy concourses of schools, colleges and universities—there has been a great deal of reflection about how education can be reimagined as something delivered through the internet and in virtual spaces. Schools started shifting to online classes in April—a change that’s here to stay, according to experts. The same month, the UGC altered the year’s academic calendar—central to its plan is shifting curricula and exams fully or partly online. Since March 24, the e-learning platform SWAYAM, run by the education ministry, has seen 50,000 new enrolments. The user base has tripled in several other NCERT-run online learning platforms. The National Digital Library is also being accessed by twice the usual number of subscribers daily. There is excited speculation all around about the promise held out by e-learning. However, there are also profound doubts and criticisms—partly on the logistics of the online model, and especially relating to internet access and whether India can...

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