New study shows online teaching isn’t working for govt-school students, exacerbating existing learning gaps

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November 20, 2020 4:40 AM

While 80% said they were unable to develop a connect with the students via online teaching, 90% said that it was impossible to assess how much students were learning.

While the central government has permitted phased reopening of educational institutions as per the local situation of COVID-19, majority teaching-learning activities continue to be online.

The latest findings by researchers at the Azim Premji University (APU) corroborate earlier revelations that the pandemic has only worsened the education divide between students in public and private schools. ASER 2020 had drawn attention to the wide gap that exists because the majority of students in government schools are not able to access digital infrastructure. The APU study found that 60% of students in public schools weren’t able to access online education and also that 70% of the parents were dissatisfied with the quality of online education being made available.

Many were even willing to send their children back to school, probably anxious they would lose out otherwise. The survey was based on responses from students in government schools, their parents and teachers across five states (Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand). Teachers also voiced serious concerns.

While 80% said they were unable to develop a connect with the students via online teaching, 90% said that it was impossible to assess how much students were learning. Already, learning levels in government schools seriously lag those in private schools. If the learning gaps widen because teachers aren’t able to effectively assess students and work on addressing the problem areas, it would mean a further setback.

With the pandemic impacting incomes and livelihoods, the trend of increasing enrolments to private schools seen over the past few years is already reversing; ASER 2020 showed there have been higher government school admissions this year. The APU report makes it clear digital education is unlikely to work for government-school students without significant funding support from both the Centre and state governments. Both students and teachers need better digital access and training.

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