‘Digital divide in online education does exist, research on to find operational solution’
Dr K Kasturirangan, the chairman of the committee that drafted the National Education Policy 2020, said a child’s capacity to learn languages is at its best when he/she is between 3 and 8 years old.
With online education becoming the new normal since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr K Kasturirangan, former chairman of the Indian Space Research Orgnisation and chairman of the committee that drafted the National Education Policy 2020, said that digital divide does exist and research is underway to find an operational method which can be integrated into the Indian school education system.
Kasturirangan was speaking at the ‘Development Dialogue’, a virtual interaction hosted by the International Centre Goa on Thursday.
Answering a question on bridging the digital divide that may leave some students out of the online learning medium necessitated by the pandemic, Kasturirangan said, “This is the beginning of online learning. Certainly, there is a digital divide. Whether it is internet connectivity, internet-enabled devices or a quiet study environment, these are all grossly underestimated in their complexity to be integrated into an Indian educational system.”
He added, “Quite a lot of research is going on but to have a system that can be adopted in an operational, scalable and affordable sense, I think we still have to wait. I don’t think I have a very clear-cut answer on this. There are multiple choices that still exist.”
Speaking about the importance of learning regional languages, as recommended in the NEP, Kasturirangan said a child’s capacity to learn languages is at its best when he/she is between 3 and 8 years old.
“If taught at this stage of life, a child has enormous capacity to learn more languages. When you want to learn more languages later, the brain is already ready because it has matured to that stage. The Japanese and French are already doing it. We have studied those models so that our kids are not left behind when it comes to learning new languages,” Kasturirangan said.
He added, “So long, we have not given enough attention to foreign languages. We need to do a major overhaul. In India, only 15 per cent people know English, most being only transactional in nature. The new policy will give them more opportunities to learn English than what they have been getting so far. We also made sure that foreign languages like French, German and Japanese are also taught in universities. That is a very weak link in the system.”