Tech Education

Digital innovation is key

Freepik   | Photo Credit: Freepik

Education in the mother tongue or a local language is critical to establish a strong foundation for life-long learning for children in pre-primary and primary classes. A paper by UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) states that being taught in a language other than their own can negatively impact children’s learning, especially for those living in poverty. The new National Education Policy (NEP) also proposes that students be taught in their mother tongue or the local language till class V “wherever possible.”

Teaching in local languages however may be a deterrent in the short-run due to the lockdown-related disruption. The recent report by UNICEF claims that more than 1.5 million schools have been closed due to the pandemic, and approximately 286 million children from pre-primary to secondary levels have been impacted. Naturally, the online medium’s efficacy for education delivery in the mother tongue/local language has been called into question.

Unfortunately, the transition to online education has not been easy due to various reasons such as access to proper technological infrastructure, and also because teachers are not adequately equipped to handle new technology and digital tools. Moreover, overcoming the language barrier to teach children in their local language emerged as a bigger challenge due to lack of suitable content and innovative methodologies to leverage technology meaningfully.

Pandemic sparks innovations

The COVID-19 crisis has paved the way for many digital innovations to educate students. Several private organisations extended their expertise to rural government-aided institutions in the areas of teachers’ training, capability, and capacity building for education continuity and overcoming the rural-urban divide, and breaking language barriers.

A number of digital initiatives for education were launched or supported by governments, organisations, or corporates. One such by the Gujarat government, involving 1.2 lakh public school teachers, proved the ingenuity of teachers to learn and adapt to a new-age digital platform to build an online community, collaborate digitally, and share knowledge and innovative educational content in their local language. There were many instances where teachers started creating their video logs on various subjects, shared best practices through chats and video platforms for classroom delivery. One teachers even developed an application, which uses augmented reality to teach young students Gujarati alphabets.

Another unique initiative, “Padhai Tuhar Dwar”, was launched in the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh to connect students with their teachers through WhatsApp groups and educate them digitally. UNICEF initiated a “Radio Schooling” where programmes were aired to engage students and continue the learning process in various subjects.

In an era when online and digital delivery of education has become the new normal, schools and teachers will need to find innovative use of technology to break the language barrier and overcome the existing obstacles in learning. During the pandemic, we have witnessed that digital platforms and new technologies can bridge every perceivable gap in education delivery, and even break the language barrier.

The writer is the founder of Adosphere

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 6:44:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/how-digital-innovation-can-help-teach-in-the-local-language/article32861915.ece

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