India’s finance minister, during her 5th $267Bn economic stimulus press meet, announced the creation of exclusive elearning TV channels for students of Grade 1 to Grade 12. The centre will soon launch the PM eVidya programme to improve accessibility to education through technology amid COVID-19 pandemic.
The focus of the flagship initiative will be to provide ‘multimode access’ to digital education. The programme consists of a multitude of schemes one of them being ‘Diksha’ which will give ‘one nation, one digital platform’ for school education in states and union territories, providing e-content and QR energised textbooks for all grades. There will also be one earmarked TV channel each for grades 1-12 under the ‘one class, one channel’ programme.
The programme will also be synonymous with inclusive education. The government has announced special e-content for the visually and hearing impaired. In addition, the use of TV channels and radio is aimed at providing accessibility to those without internet connections.
Among other initiatives, a national curriculum and pedagogical framework for school, early childhood and teachers will be launched. The revised curriculum will be integrated with 21st century global skill requirements. For psychological support, the government is planning to come up with Manodarpan. The initiative will be aimed at providing emotional and mental support for not only students but parents and teachers as well.
In the case of college education, the top 100 universities will be permitted to begin online courses by May 30th.
The government’s scheme to provide e-learning sources brings a unique threat for ed-tech start-ups. Since the beginning of the pandemic, edtech start-ups have been racing to tap the vast opportunity as educational institutions shut down, leaving millions of students behind in terms of syllabus. While some companies recorded tremendous surge in traffic by the virtue of their own content, others provided their technology to institutions to aid online classes for their students.
With the government’s initiative, there is bound to be a downward trend in the use of these apps. Especially in the case of paid content, students will resort to freely available material. The damage however, will depend on how swiftly the government rolls out the said content.