There is not a lot that distinguishes an urban child from a rural one as far as the learning abilities, physical and mental attributes are concerned. Still, there is a huge difference in the knowledge acquisition or skill development between the two. A pan-India look at the mean scores among urban and rural children reveals that the latter lag behind in subjects such as English, Mathematics, Science and Social Science. There are a number of factors for this wide gap between the educational levels in the urban and rural areas. These includethe socio-economic environment, lack of facilities and quality educators in rural India, and absence of adequate infrastructure.
Urban students have access to modern learning tools, innovative teaching styles, infrastructure as well as access to diversity courtesy of the cosmopolitan nature of the cities. On the other hand, the rural students have to contend with the outdated book-based learning, shortage of teachers, poor infrastructure, absence of learning tools and facilities like labs and libraries. There is not much cultural diversity or interaction with students from other regions and communities. All these factors combine to confine the horizon of learning and skill development among rural students as compared to the urban.While the governments at the central and state levels are aware of this crisis, the cost of revamping the educational infrastructure in a country as vast and heavily populated as India, is mind-boggling.
Live streaming impact
Live-video streaming is a medium that can help overcome the various issues that create a divide between urban and rural students.
The typical study methodology in India is where students sit on wooden desks or even floor to listen to the droning lessons narrated by the teachers, and instruction given by writing on blackboards with chalk-sticks. The curriculum is fixed by state or central board and kids need to ‘study’ the books to get through the ‘exams.’ Children who are able to cram lessons generally score top marks and rest either fail or pass without learning anything significant.
Live-video streaming would allow the students to watch subject matter experts explain topics in real time. Science has already acknowledged the superiority of visual learning over text education, and that’s the way forward. Imagine reading from a book about a weather phenomenon like snow fall or watching it live and understanding its impact in real-time.
Doing away with geographic and social barriers
Live-video streaming has the potential of bringing down the costs involved drastically. Using this technology, rural students in a state like Haryana can interact with students in other states such as Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh or Maharashtra. A specialist educator in Delhi can teach a class of students in Assam and Kerala simultaneously. The technology has the power to render geographical limitations meaningless. Using the live-video streaming technology would be a great help in overcoming the shortage of qualified teaching staff in the rural areas.
Live-video streaming has the capability of drastically altering the expenditure on educational infrastructure. The only requirementfor live-streaming is to have a good internet connection and a display screen that can even be a laptop or a smart-phone device. Even for students in rural areas, the cost of subscription to a good live-video streaming educational portal is going to be cheaper than the amount spent on school fees and related expenditure. Thus, it will not only have a much wider coverage, but will be affordable for most of the rural families.
Smartphone penetration in India has been tremendous and has expanded into far flung rural areas. By leveraging the live-streaming video technology in education, the smartphones can be turned into a learning centre for the students. This would also address another major problem faced by them which is about the school timings clashing with the other tasks and duties assigned by families. A teenager might be told by his father to tend to crops or cattle in the morning instead of going to the school. With the flexibility of accessing education through video live-streaming, the learner would be able to attend the class from his home, farm or pasture.
As evidenced by the above-mentioned factors, live-video streaming of education can be a boon in mainstreaming the rural education sector in India. It is possible to live-stream educational lessons to multiple locations, catering to much larger number of learners. Hence it would be possible for the expert educators to share their knowledge with the rural students. This would help in mainstreaming the rural education since the lessons imparted would be the same/similar in case of urban as well as rural students. Interactive activity- based learning methodologies which are now becoming a norm in urban areas, would also become available for the students in the countryside.
By removing the geographical barrier and potentially connecting learners from different states and communities, live-video streaming technology can help in creating a standardized mainstream education system. It will allow urban as well as rural students to get the same facilities and to compete on a level playing ground academically. This would not only transform and simplify, but also bring the rural education in India at par with the urban education!
Author- Mr Ritesh Rawal, Founder, Ritesh Rawal Foundation and Education Evangelist....