Online Education A Boon For Rural India

Good education is not the monopoly of any particular area. The students of the big cities alone should not be blessed with the expertise of teachers who prepare toppers for the competitive examinations every year. Village students should also be provided with the opportunity of learning from these teachers. However, bringing these teachers to the villages is not an easy task. The Morarka Foundation has come forward to accomplish this difficult task. The Foundation has brought these teachers in touch with the villages through the medium of technology _ that of online education. This education system was started on an experimental basis in one of the schools in a village and the success rates of the students picked up momentum. Those students who could not even think about getting an entry into any normal engineering or medical college started dreaming about becoming successful in competitive examinations like the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) or the Pre-Medical Test (PMT). Their dreams did not remain mere dreams : these dreams turned into reality within one year. Online education has changed the educational milieu of the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan and has also changed for the better the fortunes of the students. Not only competitive examinations, but the results of 10th and 12th standards have also shown significant improvement. The success of the experiment has encouraged the Morarka Foundation to spread this technology further. The Foundation is ready to expand its online education programme in a big way. A ray of light is enough to diminish darkness. In the same way, education removes the darkness of illiteracy. In fact, changing times are bringing significant changes in education in much the same way in which changing times ensured replacement of oil lamps with electric bulbs and then to compact fluorescent lights.
Moreover, in this era of information technology, the old ways of education have been left behind as a result of a number of revolutionary changes. White boards took the place of black boards, while projectors and markers took the place of chalks in schools. Schools too have become hi-tech now and are known as the ‘smart class’. Computers have been taken over the place of teachers to a certain extent. India is considered a major force in information technology all around the world, but the majority of students in rural India have not been getting the benefits of these technological changes. Even now, new technology, a new syllabus, new thinking and a modern atmosphere of education, modern machinery, innumerable opportunities provided by these changes and resources have not really reached the people of ruralIndia. This is the reason that village students in India, in spite of being intelligent and diligent, do not become competent enough to enter the top most institutions of our country such as IIT, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), NIIT etc. Even if some students find a place in those institutions, they do not achieve the expected success because of their lack of basic knowledge. And because of this they have to struggle all their lives. To remove this difference between the villages and cities, an effort was started last year in a small village named Beri in the Sikar district of Rajasthan. The architect of this effort was the Morarka Foundation. The Morarka Foundation selected Carrier Public School from the village of Beri to start this effort on an experimental basis and instituted a lab with 10 computers in the school. A subscription to an online education portal along with Internet facility was provided in this lab.
Students of other schools in the neighbouring areas were also permitted to study in the lab. Six hundred students the 10th standard to the 12th standard enrolled for this online education and a new type of education system got underway in the Shekhawati region. Black boards and teachers were not required in this system. The students started attending classes in batches. Seeing the success of this system at the initial stage, other schools from the nearby Nawalgarh area also adopted this system. The enthusiasm and dedication of the students was praiseworthy. Several students studying in the 12th standard started preparations for IIT, AIEEE, PMT and other competitive examinations. After one year, when the results of the students enrolled with this programme were declared, the people of Shekhawati praised this system of education : 4 students had been selected in the IIT entrance examination and 45 students were selected in the AIEEE entrance examination. Out of these, 7 students had performed commendably in the AIEEE examination. Not only this, unexpected improvements were also seen in the results of the 10th and 12th standard examinations. More than 80 students from the 12th standard secured 75 per cent and above marks. There was notable improvement in the results of 35 per cent of the students who were promoted from the 10th standard to the 11th standard. And amongst the students who were promoted from the 11th standard to the 12th standard, 70 per cent witnessed an increase of 10 per cent in their results.

The more the Government delays in taking decisions, the more it lags behind fast changing technologies. A small effort can make a huge difference to the lives of people, and this can be understood by looking at the results of the online education system in Beri in Rajasthan. But the Government hesitates to take such revolutionary steps speedily and fails to recognise that it is initiatives like this which have vast potential for reducing the difference between the villages and the cities. Such initiatives can reduce the difference between Bharat and India.

In the Foundation’s online education system, students listen and speak, with the help of the Internet, to lecturers in different subjects. This is an easy, convenient and modern education system, where the students do not need to go to any costly institution and pay huge fees for studies. Instead they can obtain education from their homes, schools or any computer institute with the help of a computer and the Internet.
Graphics and other visual aids help the students to gain clarity about various aspects of various subjects. Learning with the help of three dimensional visuals enables students to remember the content easily. In schools which do not have proper apparatus or facilities in their labs, online portals can remove such deficiencies. Physics and chemistry practicals can also be done through online education in a manner which gives no indication that the practicals are not being done in a lab. This is the most secure and easy use of science _ there are no worries of apparatus getting damaged nor there is any worry of students getting accidentally injured by chemicals while doing their practicals. Besides, students can continue repeating the practicals till such time as any doubts are cleared. However, this online education has its limitations as well. The students cannot get their queries answered on the spot during online lectures and so some questions have to wait for answers. In spite of this, the short fall of good lecturers is bridged to a large extent in online education.
Some village students get the opportunity to go to cities for coaching classes, but the parents of many female students still hesitate to send their daughters to attend coaching classes in cities. With the help of online education, these girls can also make their career in the field of, for example, engineering and medical sciences without having to got to coaching classes in a city. Very often, students even after spending lakhs of rupees on coaching classes do not succeed in their examinations or careers. Online education is a boon for such students. The State Governments should encourage and help this initiative through all possible means. The reach of non- governmental organisations (NGOs) is limited and many a time they lack the required resources. Therefore, the Government should take the responsibility of progressive programmes in their own hands. Eighty per cent of the schools in India are Governmental and 80 per cent of students in the rural areas go to these Government schools for their studies. Fifty per cent of the students from the urban areas build their future from these Governmental schools. The responsibility of running a majority of these schools is in the hands of the Government. There are 981 Kendriya Vidyalayas, 593 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas and 24 Sainik schools in India. There is a huge difference between the quality of education in urban Government schools in comparison to the Government schools in rural areas. The country has made a lot of progress in information technology and telecommunications, but rural areas still cannot partake of these benefits in a meaningful manner. The education policies of the Government lack foresight. The Government planned to join the main higher education institutions with optical fibre to promote better coordination, but this has not been executed fully till date.
The Government takes a lot of time to make a plan, and then does not show much interest in its implementation. The Ministry of Human Resource Development had started an ambitious programme with the launch of the Aakash tablet, but without adequate testing of the tablet computers. As a result, due to technical faults and low quality, Aakash tablets have not been made available to the students till date. The more the Government delays in taking decisions, the more it lags behind fast changing technologies. A small effort can make a huge difference to the lives of people, and this can be understood by looking at the results of the online education system in Beri in Rajasthan. But the Government hesitates to take such revolutionary steps speedily and fails to recognise that it is initiatives like this which have vast potential for reducing the difference between the villages and the cities. Such initiatives can reduce the difference between Bharat and India. Science and technology are a boon to the human race, but their benefits should not remain restricted to just a few people. It is the responsibility of the Government to make the benefits available to all people in urban as well as rural India. It is not fair to be dependent on voluntary organisations for this type of work, partly because the tenure of programmes which run on donations can last only for a limited period. So the government should come forward and take a stand on supporting innovative programmes. The future will see online education becoming a prime necessity for the betterment of the education system. This will give a new direction to the country, a new process of thought to the country, and in this villages, empowered by programmes like online education, would play a pivotal role. Villages will then be seen matching steps with the cities in the overall development of the country.

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