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Challenges of Integrating Education Technology in Rural Areas

The technology is yet to set its footprints in many schools of interior parts of the country for students to attain digital literacy. This time seems to be crucial for everyone to create a pro-digital mindset as the time demands to gain virtual wisdom especially for students staying in the interior belts. With the coronavirus outbreak and closure of schools, traditional classrooms have turned into digital rooms by emphasizing on remote learning culture which makes it important to have digital awareness.

Rural India occupies an extensive area that is filled with a large group of people who do not have access to basic education. Implementing standard literacy seems to be extremely challenging and therefore expansion of digital learning in this locale is probably a far-fetched dream. The usage of tech-oriented devices in schools offers great technical difficulties in these areas that officials have to diligently take every step while initiating a revolution of this form 

There will be hurdles and obstacles while bringing a reform. So, let me share some insights on the ed-tech challenges faced by the rural schools in India.

Access to broadband: Internet access is the most detrimental hurdle to taking a digital leap because even if the schools have internet provision, many students live far away from school and most of them would not be in a state to possess internet connection. It is also not cost-effective for telecommunication providers to install broadband services in rural areas because it is slow and expensive for students to work without any hindrance. Even if the broadband is available it would not provide any source of benefit in these rural districts. Some districts have installed mobile towers to provide better coverage for remote students but this appears to be an expensive option and is unaffordable. The digital equity is an integral part for rural students otherwise they would not be able to participate in educational activities from home which includes class discussions, collaboration, and interaction with classmates

A limited number of people with technological skills: The interior parts often have a difficult time in the recruitment of staffs and substitute teachers because the remote lifestyle does not appeal to those who are coming from towns or cities due to which the existing teaching staffs have to teach subjects in which they haven’t majored. The existing teachers might not be digitally sound and the ones who have some knowledge about it will be in charge of all the tech-related activities which is a huge burden on them  

Skeptical: Some communities may be skeptical about the adoption of technology in school because the people would be very protective of their subtle way of living and don’t want to see that getting disrupted.

However, things are possible to change if we thrive towards designing a space that provides equitable digital resources where the scholar and pupil can engage in creating digital awareness which would lead to the progression of the whole community. Eventually, this will open doors of opportunities for students in their native itself that will not require them to leave their home or city and migrate to other places in search of a better livelihood

 

What are the opportunities for digital innovation in remote schools?

 With a small number of population in rural districts, it is easier to bring a change by discarding programs that are obsolete as part of the digital shift. Also, relationships are stronger in these areas where everyone knows each staff and student.

Such areas have terrific community involvement which has support from the neighborhood and other town’s people. This creates opportunities for student-oriented activities like workshops, internships, etc. 

Apparently, some towns have improved immensely due to technological advances that have allowed for remote jobs taking a space that does not require geographic locations.

Despite the innumerable challenges rural districts face, it promises a great future integrated with 21st-century skills with access to the internet and latest hardware and software

Vinod Kakumanu

Vinod Kakumanu

Founder & Consultant - School Serv

Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.

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