With the COVID-19 pandemic greatly affecting the academic world, Indian Government has come up with various steps to boost digital education in the country.
Announcing the Rs 20-lakh crore COVID-19 packages on May 17, India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced the launch of PM eVidya Program to promote digital education and make elearning more feasible for students and teachers in the country.
The focus of the flagship initiative is to provide ‘multi-mode access’ to digital or online education. The program consists of a multitude of schemes, including DIKSHA – ‘one nation, one digital platform’, one earmarked TV channel per class, extensive use of radio, community radio, and podcasts, special e-content for visually and hearing impaired, and more.
DIKSHA will give ‘one nation, one digital platform’ for school education in states and union territories across the country. It will provide e-content and QR coded energised textbooks for all grades. With content in 14 Indian languages, it is said that the scheme will benefit nearly 25 crore school going children across the country.
The one earmarked TV channel will provide ‘one class, one channel’ for each class from grade 1 to 12. Under the new initiative, the government will add 12 new DTH channels under the Swayam Prabha. The Swayam Prabha is HRD Ministry’s free-to-air education channels launched to provide educational content to support and reach students who do not have access to the internet. The 32 Swayam Prabha channels offer user around six hours of pre-recorded content on four different subjects daily. It also allows students to clear their doubts by calling on a dedicated helpline.
It is said that under the initiative, 289 community radio stations will be attempted for school education. Government also said will extensively use podcast to reach out to students. Podcast Shiksha Vani of CBSE disseminates audio content for various subjects of grades 9 to 12 in a seamless manner. It is available on Play Store for Android phone users. The use of TV channels and radio under the new initiative is aimed at providing accessibility of educational content to those without internet connections.
In addition, the government also announced various other programs for boosting the education system in the country. They include New National Curriculum and Pedagogical framework for schools, early childhood and teachers integrated with 21st century skill requirements, Manodarpan to provide emotional and mental support to students, teachers and parents, and National Foundation Literacy and Numeracy Mission to ensure every child attains learning levels and outcomes in grades 5 by 2025.
Under the PM eVidya Program, the top 100 universities will be permitted to begin online courses by May 30, the FM said.
Meanwhile, this massive educational programs announced by the central government bring a unique threat to the edtech community in the country, which has been witnessing tremendous surge in the use of their educational content and technologies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the new PM eVidya Program will enable many more students across the country to access digital content and continue their education despite the lockdown.