Challenges of Online Education in Rural Areas in Covid-19 Emergency: An Analytical Study of Rural Odisha
In this era of Corona-19 epidemic, the whole world has come to a standstill, all our services have stoppage. Given the increasing number of Corona in the world, it is not possible to tell when the country will be able to get back on track again. The same situation is for education system as well. Now all types of educational institutions are closed. From now on, all institutions have become completely dependent on technology or online education. Today all educational institutions are providing online education, conducting examinations through online. During this time, students and teacher being faced many types of problems, like- network problem, internet issue, the problem of non-internet users as well as our health is being affected negatively. This article explains what the challenges of online education in rural areas in period of Covid-19 are. For this article, we have done an analytical study of the rural area of Odisha.
Keywords: Covid-19 Epidemic, Online Education, Rural Area, Odisha
There is no doubt that a large section of the population in India, which seeks education, belongs to the rural area. Lack of computers, mobile connectivity and lack of internet facilities have emerged as major hurdles in online education in rural area of Odisha. Online education is being used in Covid 19 epidemic emergency. Today, online education has become more popular everywhere of India. Online education is a medium by which teachers can connect with their students online from any corner of the country and the world. Online education requires high speed internet and mobile, laptop, or computer. Online education has many advantages and disadvantage. Online education has become an integral part of students’ lives today.
During this epidemic, online education in rural Odisha has become a major challenge for the state government. Following the Covid-19 guidelines, both the state’s higher education and mass education departments have instructed schools and colleges to start online classes. Accordingly, both students and teachers have been active in conducting online classes, where they find a heap of difficulties.
Since the network has poor connectivity in almost all the rural areas of the state, both teachers and students have to face the communication problem. Many times, teachers and students either climb the hills or on the roofs of buildings or climb trees to achieve a strong network connectivity in their classroom hours. Even though IT companies claim their presence in almost all parts of the state, the reality is far from it.
Most of the senior teachers of rural Odisha are not aware of the use of Android handsets, apart from the apps that conduct online classes. The problem has not stopped from this. More than 70 percent of the parents of rural Odisha are not able to provide Android handsets with data pack features to their children.
Objective of the Study
- To understand the concept of online education.
- Discussion all challenges of online education in rural Odisha.
- To study current state of online education in rural Odisha.
What is online education?
Online education is a medium of learning in which students sit at home through the Internet and study using their computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones. Through this education system, you can connect with your teacher by staying in any corner of the world. Similarly, teachers can also teach their students from any place. As we all know that today’s era is a digital age in which teachers are educating their students with the help of devices like mobile, computers and laptops. In this era of Covid-19 epidemic, when all schools, colleges and educational institutions are closed, the importance of online education has increased a lot. In such a situation, students are being continued with the help of online medium.
Mobile Connectivity in Odisha
The total mobile users in India may have touched 116.3 crore, but of the 5.97 lakh villages in India over 25,000 villages still do not have mobile or internet connectivity. In the 90 districts in 11 states that have been affected by left-wing extremism, there are over 10,000 villages that do not have mobile and internet connectivity. While Odisha has maximum number of villages without mobile or internet. The communication ministry has informed parliament that of the 25000 villages that are beyond the mobile and internet grid in India, Odisha accounts for the highest (6099 villages) number of villages. To get a comprehensive and objective data about the availability of mobile and internet connectivity in villages, this data shows that out of 5,97,618 inhabited villages in the country, (as per Census 2011) 5,72,551 villages have been provided with mobile and internet connectivity.
As per Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), 90 districts in 11 states are affected by left wing extremism (LWE). In these 90 districts, 85,894 of the 96,794 inhabited villages (as per Census 2011) have mobile and internet services. This means 10,000 odd villages in Naxal affected areas live without mobile and internet connectivity.
Accordingly Economic Survey (2018-19) Odisha represents multiple challenges regarding the digital infrastructure needs of the state. More than 20 per cent (11,000) villages in Odisha do not have mobile connectivity. Similarly, the state has just 28.22 internet subscribers for a population of 100, compared to the national average of 38.02. Internet subscribers per 100 people in rural areas stand only at 16; it is 83.3 in urban areas.
Challenges of online education in rural Odisha
To get education, the trend of online education is increasing rapidly, but there are many challenges in the path of this education, such as-
- The biggest challenge of the online education system is poor internet connection. Due to these, there is a big challenge in the path of online education because studies cannot be done properly through poor internet connection.
- It is very difficult for rural students to do any kind of lab work or practical in online education system.
- Lack of skills among teachers in rural areas to use digital platforms can be seen as another notable factor that affects the spread of online education. Since the teachers themselves are not trained to use digital platforms, it becomes a cause of resistance in the adoption of these methods of education.
- Those who live in the rural area, there is no proper system of electricity, due to this student who living in the village cannot study through online education.
- Not every student has a laptop, computer, and smart phone, so if he/she wants to study through online then it can become a problem for him/her.
- There are many subjects on which students need practical learning but in e-learning system it is very difficult to teach such subjects due to which students are unable to take practical education.
- Lack of Infrastructure and hardware accommodations which hamper reliability of e-education. Services delivered to rural areas are not available using local language and this will affect their long-term sustenance due to low interest in their usage.
- Penetration of digital education among the female population in rural Odisha is even more challenging. Like most other domains, access to internet and literacy in rural Odisha is primarily available to men. In such a scenario, it becomes even more challenging to enable women to access these resources.
Benefits of online education in rural Odisha
Online education has many advantages, which are as follows:
- The biggest advantage of online education is that online education is very convenient as well as its operation process is also very simple. When a student receives education through online medium, then he / she gets all the focus on his / her teacher whereas in the school class among other students it is not possible.
- When a student receives education through e-education, his/her inhibitions and stress are reduced. Through this system the student’s learning ability is highly improved. This is because many students are of a self-conscious attitude and are not able to perform well in the classroom due to their shy nature but when they study through online medium their inhibitions are reduced at that time. In this way it can be said that online education systems have a positive impact on students as well as improve their learning style.
- Even if a student cannot spend a lot of money on his / her studies, he / she can still get education through online as this teaching system is cheaper than classroom education. Therefore, people of every category and category can get education through online education.
- When a student goes to study in school or college, there is a timetable and accordingly that student has to study but if it is talked about online education, then there is no limit to study here. It is up to you how much you want to study because for this neither you have to go anywhere, nor you have to spend money.
- When a student studies in the classroom, he is not able to concentrate fully on his studies because there is always noise in the classes due to which the studies are not done properly. But if we talk about online education, here you get an opportunity to focus more on your studies and along with this you can also study peacefully.
Disadvantages of online education in rural Odisha
There are many benefits of online education but other hand there are also disadvantages of online education system which is as follows-
- Because online education is learned in front of a computer screen or in front of a smartphone, if a person spends many hours in front of it, then it has negative effects on his muscles as well as his eyes.
- For online education, it is important that your internet network is good because if the network signals are not good, then it will be difficult to get education. Similarly, there are many rural areas where people do not have internet facility.
- When a student studies in a classroom, his teacher understands a lot of things from his spoken body language, but this is not possible under the online education system, so online teachers are not able to understand and monitor their progress.
- The competition environment in online education is not the same as it is in regular school or college classes. There is no doubt that when a student studies in a group, he works hard to become more alert and capable but this competitive environment is not available to the students in online education.
- There is a lack of practical education under online education and a practical i.e. practical touch and deep understanding generates special interest in any study which is absent in online education.
- Competitions are not conducted to encourage students in online education because a human being is a living creature in a society and encourages him to be given a prize for something. Therefore, no student can maintain his enthusiasm through online education.
- When a student goes to school or college to study, there are exams, homework is given so that the teacher can know how much the child has learned. Similarly, when children give homework or exams, they also get an idea of how much knowledge they have acquired. But in online education, no student can self-assess because students read e-books here and they do not have to do any homework.
- Just like when a student goes to college or school, he always follows the discipline but in online education the discipline is not followed by the students at all.
Covid-19 has banned classroom teaching sessions, with online teaching creating a new way for students and teachers to maintain normalcy. It is heartening to see that not only urban educational institutions, but also state-run schools in rural areas have gone digital and resorted to online classes to reduce the academic deficit. Although not every village and town in Odisha is fundamentally developed to sustain online education, it is inspiring many rural schools and colleges to look more fully suited to e-learning during these times. Online education has some disadvantages in rural areas due to lack of awareness, reluctance, illiteracy and lack of proper infrastructure, it still has a wide scope in the near future, and we believe it definitely Will help the poor gentry to fill the gap between educated cities and rural under-developed areas.
Based on the findings, the study recommends that rural learners and teachers should have data access that allows them to engage in the online learning process. The biggest challenge facing online education is that the internet connection is very poor. Thus, it is important that the Department of Education invests to ensure that all learners have access to an Internet connection to enhance teaching and learning during the COVID-19 crisis.
This study also recommends that the Department of Education provide all equipment to students and teachers for online learning. These devices may include smartphones, tablets, or laptops that support the installation of learning packages. In addition, the study recommends that teachers be capacitated on online learning, so that they can assist learners.
Some ways to overcome the challenges faced by online education in rural Odisha:
- The current situation will pave a greater way for research around topics such as low-cost Learning platforms, penetration of digital learning in rural areas, revisiting learning science from blended mode approach and this would be more beneficial for learners at large.
- Digital content delivery training cycles for teachers can be organized periodically by the state governments.
- Innovations can be brought about to make the process of digital education more interactive and robust.
- With public-private initiatives, rural areas could be equipped with the required infrastructure.
- The successful initiatives under the CSR of corporates promoting digital education in rural schools should be promoted further.
- Rural schools can be provided with digital learning kits and alternative sources of energy like solar power can be installed in schools.
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Author: PhD Research Scholar,
Department of Linguistics
Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Madhya Pradesh