Give online education more teeth: FICCI

The Chambers wants government to invest more for online learning

Updated - August 07, 2020 01:57 pm IST

Published - August 07, 2020 12:48 pm IST - CHENNAI

A teacher uploading study materials for students in Chennai. FICCI has given a list of suggestions to the government to improve online education. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

A teacher uploading study materials for students in Chennai. FICCI has given a list of suggestions to the government to improve online education. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

A paper by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry has called for sweeping changes in online education. For an effective online education, the government to invest more, it said.

The paper has given short-term, medium-term and long-term plans to expand the country’s digital education space.

It has advised the government to invest in infrastructure, creation of online content in different languages and encourage publishing companies to develop digital content in regional languages. Some of the suggestions echo the points made in the recently released National Education Policy.

With an estimated 560 million internet users in the country, India is the second largest online market in the world, the paper states. By 2023, there will be a 40% increase in internet users , FICCI estimates.

Use TV, radio

To tackle the emergency, the government should invest in digital, radio and DTH channels to reach out to children in rural and remote areas. It should provide laptops/smartphones to children and offer interest-free loans to enable students access digital content. The teachers must be trained to provide e-lessons and digital contents and e-books. Testing tools and technology platforms for schools and colleges should be exempted from GST.

Reputed Indian universities should be encouraged to create joint online programmes with foreign universities, the paper has suggested.

The medium-term plan would be to expand the internet connectivity and encourage blended learning methods where students can use digital resources and online courses in schools and colleges. It has suggested that the top 200 universities be given the autonomy to develop online content in regional languages.

The long-term plan includes providing digital portfolios for students from class 6 to 12 and blended home schooling where children can work from home. Students should be given flexibility in choosing their credits. Engineering courses that do not require laboratory work should be allowed to go online.

Training teachers

Among the suggestions is to build capacity of the teachers to conduct online classes and assessments. The suggestions resonate well with the views teachers have been expressing.

Teachers have been expressing concerns about going digital ever since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Now that the colleges have reopened the teachers are feeling the lack of governmental support.

The principal of a government arts college said, “Teachers must be encouraged to conduct online classes. Most of them use only data packs and they cannot afford to spend much. Besides where is the incentive for them? In private colleges the salary is low. How will they even take classes,” he asked.

Another principal wanted to know a system to monitor the teachers. “In college I can physically walk around the campus and check for myself. We need a fool-proof mechanism to ensure that the classes are being conducted.”

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