Investment in Online Education: Pan-Asian platform as panacea?
One of the major ‘achievements’ of Covid-19 is that it has made us realise that the normal functioning of our lives need an overhaul. For the last one month many academics have shown burgeoning interest in understanding how education is slowly shifting from physical traditional classrooms to online platforms. Despite the fact that only 8% of Indian households can arrange online education for their children, the stakeholders of India is slowly beginning to ponder upon necessary steps for increasing the possibility.
Similarly, China is facing same issues. Despite economic advancements it has made in the recent decades, China has still not ensured enough Internet accessibility to the countryside and there are reports that children from the rural areas are encountering tremendous hardships to attend online lectures. In its recent report, New York Times has depicted the plight of many rural Chinese students who walk miles and climb mountains to get better network facility. The report claimed that between 56 million and 80 million people in China reported lacking either an Internet connection or a web-enabled device in 2018, according to government statistics.
There are many factors one needs to keep in mind while discussing these issues. Technological advancements are not merely questions of modernization. Whether we like it or not, if more people are unable to have access to these technologies, investment might not be as lucrative as it is needed for necessary modernization. On the other hand, there are various factors which impede the popularization of technologies amongst masses. As rightly pointed out by India Today “Given the period we’ve spent in lockdown and the observations of our abrupt transition to online learning, we’ve found the time to think and the direction in which we must apply our efforts.” In this sense, there should a new planning method altogether.
Many academics believe that, while assessment method and mode of learning may change, the curriculums too shall undergo changes. For example, with the shrinking job market, education will be more focused on skill building and for overall social building. There would be more focus on collectivisation of education than merely imparting knowledge for individual development. Greater implementation of technology, diverse knowledge production, and experiential differences will find more place in education. But are countries in a position to build these on their own? The answer is a simple no.
In this respect, it will be important to increase the global solidarity – so cosmopolitan campuses would pave the way to more open internationalisation of knowledge sharing. At this age of communication boom and technological advancement when borders have become not only porous, but have also withered away from virtual space, it is important to increase cooperation with neighbouring countries. There are various reports already that suggest that Arab world has already made serious advancements in e-learning platform. Any Pan- Asian venture would help the countries to be better equipped with changing time. This will be beneficial for all the students.