Jul 28: Union Minister for HRD Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ today virtually launched India Report on Digital Education, 2020. Shri Pokhriyal said that the report elaborates on the innovative methods adopted by Ministry of HRD, Education Departments of States and Union Territories for ensuring accessible and inclusive education to children at home and reducing learning gaps. He also urged all to read this report to get a better understanding of the various initiatives taken to facilitate remote learning and education for all by taking schools to the students.
School Education is envisaged as a comprehensive and convergent programme committed to universalize digital education across the wide spectrum of schools from pre-nursery to higher secondary classes. The quality digital education has acquired a new urgency in the present context of globalization. Ministry of Human Resource Development has initiated many projects to assist teachers, scholars and students in their pursuit of learning like DIKSHA platform, Swayam Prabha TV Channel, Online MOOC courses, On Air – Shiksha Vani, DAISY by NIOS for differently-abled, e-PathShala, National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) to develop e-content and energized books, telecast through TV channels, E-learning portals , webinars, chat groups, distribution of books and other digital initiatives along with State/ UT Governments.
The report has messages from the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, union Minister for HRD, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank”, Minister of State for HRD, Shri Sanjay Dhotre, and Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, MHRD, Smt Anita Karwal,. The report has been prepared by Digital Education Division of MHRD in consultation with Education Departments of States and UTs.
Besides, the central Initiatives State/ UT Governments have also managed the critical task of providing digital education at the door step of the students. Some of the major medium to connect to the students were using social media tools like WhatsApp Group for all the classes, Online classes through YouTube channel, Google meet, Skype etc., E-learning portal, TV (Doordarshan & regional channels), Radio (AIR), use of Diksha was most prominent choice of all the stakeholders.
Some of the major digital initiatives by State Governments are SMILE (Social Media Interface for Learning Engagement) in Rajasthan, Project Home Classes in Jammu, Padhai Tunhar duvaar (Education at your doorstep) in Chhattisgarh, Unnayan Initiatives in Bihar through portal and mobile application, Mission Buniyaad in NCT of Delhi, Kerala’s own educational TV channel (Hi-Tech school programme), E-scholar portal as well as free online courses for teachers in Meghalaya. Telangana has online certificate programs for teachers on ‘Management of mental well-being during COVID’.
Some states have launched innovative mobile apps and portals as means to facilitate remote learning. Madhya Pradesh has launched Top Parent App, a free mobile app that empowers parents of young children (3-8 years) with knowledge and strategies around child development to help them meaningfully engage with their children. KHEL(Knowledge Hub for Electronic Learning), a Game Based Application has also been started, that covers class 1-3. Uttarakhand is making use of Sampark Baithak App through which primary school students can access animated videos, audios, worksheet, puzzles, etc. Assam has launched the Biswa Vidya Assam Mobile Application for class 6 to 10. Bihar has launched Vidyavahini App with e-books for class 1 to 12. Under Unnayan Bihar Initiative, Bihar has also launched Mera Mobile Mera Vidyalaya for students, and Unnayan Bihar Teacher App. Chandigarh has launched Phoenix Mobile application to assess the learning outcome for the students of class 1 to 8. Maharashtra has launched the Learning Outcomes Smart Q Mobile App to facilitate learning for students in the state. Punjab has launched iScuela Learn Mobile Application for class 1 to 10. Sikkim Edutech App connects all the schools of Sikkim under the State Education Department, Parents also have login access along with students, teachers and administrative units. Tripura has an application titled ‘EmpowerU Shiksha Darpan’ in order to facilitate student’s appraisal. Uttar Pradesh launches ‘Top Parent’ app targeting children from 3-8years age. The application currently houses three high-quality EdTech apps for children – Chimple, Maths Masti and Google Bolo.
States are also pioneering Whatsapp as a medium for education and to encourage teachers, parents, and students to stay connected. Odisha Shiksha Sanjog – a Whatsapp based digital learning programme has been launched in Odisha that shares e-content with class groups in a streamlined way. Education through Whatsapp is also being dispensed in Punjab, Puducherry. Rajasthan is using Whatsapp innovatively for Hawamahal – Joyful Saturday program where students will listen to stories and play the games with the instructions being shared to them via whatsapp. Mission Prerna ki e-Pathshala is a Teacher to student whatsapp group in Uttar Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh has launched three whatsapp campaigns namely, ‘Karona, Thodi Masti, Thodi Padhai for joyful learning & ‘Har Ghar Pathshala’ where the State disseminates e-content, students go through the content and solve the worksheets thereby provided with teacher’s feedback. For students with special needs, the campaign has been named as “Hum Kisi se Kam Nahi- Mera Ghar Meri Pathshala”. The content is being shared through WhatsApp groups where special educators are assigned.
Many states have had to be creative with low tech forms of teaching and instruction delivery with low or nil requirements of the internet. For instance- In Arunachal Pradesh, primary class students are receiving interesting Radio talks in their mother tongue through All India Radio, Itanagar. The districts of Jharkhand have localized actual teachers addressing children through regional Doordarshan and available radio slots. Similar is Puducherry’s initiative telecasting the classes through virtual control rooms on local TV channels. Manipur has started comic books for students of class 3-5 to help them learn concepts in a fun way. Ladakh is collaborating with NGOs like EMBIBE Bangalore and 17000 feet in providing online education to students even in low connectivity zones. The missing element during the current crisis being ‘community engagement’, the idea of localized and personalized resources have come into picture. Popular features like quiz competitions are held by the state of Haryana.
To grapple with the challenges of providing remote learning, NIOS & Swayam Prabha contents are disseminated focusing on children who are not connected to the internet and have limited access to radio & TV. The initiatives from states to make available the content through innovative mediums are ensuring inclusion. For instance – Andhra Pradesh has started Toll Free Call Centre and Toll Free Video call centre for students for understanding critical topics and clearing their doubts. Due to poor mobile connectivity and unavailability of internet services, Chhattisgarh has started Motor iskool. The state has also started a toll free number as VFS (Virtual Field Support). Jharkhand has started the Roving teacher where many teachers keep moving to teach children. Gujarat started a Reading Campaign for Oral Reading Fluency- Vanchan Abhiyan and Parivar no maalo-salamat ane humfaalo (family’s nest-safe and warm) socio psychological support programme for children. West Bengal has also started an exclusive and dedicated toll-free helpline number to enable students to call and clarify doubts.
To ensure inclusive learning in remote areas where internet connectivity and electricity is poor and sporadic, States and UTs have also distributed textbooks at children’s doorsteps. Some of the states that have taken this initiative to reach students are Odisha, Madhya Pradesh (under Dakshata Unnayan Programme), Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, etc. Lakshadweep has distributed tablets equipped with e-contents to students. Nagaland has distributed study material through DVD/Pen drive to students at nominal cost. Jammu & Kashmir has distributed free tabs to students, along with laptops & Braille tactile readers for visually impaired learners.
Digital education initiatives are also enabling enhanced support for students preparing for competitive exams. Goa has partnered with Embibe, an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered online platform for learning, practicing, and testing, for students preparing for entrance exams in the State. Karnataka has launched Pariksha Vani, an exam preparation program through Doordarshan, and an SSLC Exam Readiness Program. Online Practice tests with detailed analysis are available for Government and Government Aided Students of Tamil Nadu preparing for NEET exam.
Addressing diverse needs by states, personality development along with command over language is focused by NCT of Delhi for higher classes, amid lockdown mental well-being of children is also taken care of through happiness classes channelized through SMS/IVR for primary grade children. Similarly, other states are also focusing on the mental well-being of students like Tamil Nadu and Telangana. Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are actively focusing on inclusive education for students with Special needs. In such a way, the state’s education departments together are determined and committed to curbing the learning crisis remotely.