Reforms Needed for Online Higher Education – UPSC GS2

  • Government spent merely 3.2% of its GDP on education in 2020-21.
  • Online education started in India without any changes in infrastructure, training, etc.
Issues due to Online higher education in India:
  • Struggle of non-elite institutes:
    • Centrally funded elite institutes such as the IITs, IIMs, NITs and Central universities launched video channels and uploaded e-content on institutional websites and digital platforms
    • On the other hand, State universities struggle without proper Internet connectivity and bandwidth on their campuses.
    • There are several vacant faculty positions in universities. So, online education increased the work of already overburdened teachers.
  • Problems for students: Many of the students lacked the facilities to attend online classes.
  • Problems with practical education: Online education cannot replace practical field and laboratory-based learning in higher education.
How online higher education can be improved?
  • Wider Stakeholder Consultation:
    • According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (2018-19), India has 993 universities, 39,931 colleges, 3.73 crore students and 14.16 lakh, teachers.
    • So, a wider consultation is needed before making any major changes.
  • Tackling digital divide:
    • Internet penetration is still low in India. So the government has to provide financial aids to obtain appropriate IT tools, platforms, devices, provide training, etc.
  • Preparation of appropriate study material: 
    • Application-based learning is needed rather than uploading scanned notes/pdfs.
  • Introduction of online education in a phased manner:
    • A transition from conventional to online mode has to happen in a phased manner.  State universities should first equip their infrastructure (both hard and soft) with complete government support.
  • Development of other services: 
    • The government has to invest more in developing massive open online courses (MOOCs), direct-to-home (DTH) content development, digital classrooms etc.
With more COVID-19 waves are expected, the government has to engage with academic stakeholders and invest adequately in online education as suggested by Fifteenth Finance Commission.

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