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What the government has been saying in the Parliament about digital learning

Legislators from the in the Parliament from the BJP, YSR Congress Party, Trinamool Congress and the Revolutionary Socialist Party have submitted questions on digital learning to the government, as the subject continues to attract scrutiny due to questions around equitable access and learning outcomes. Below are the summaries of the government’s responses to those questions.

Six Members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha — Jyotiraditya Scindia and Rodmal Nagar of the BJP, Lavu Sri Krishna Devarayalu and Talari Rangaiah of the YSR Congress Party, Sisir Adhikari of the Trinamool Congress, and NK Premachandran of the Revolutionary Socialist Party — have received responses to questions on the subject.

  1. Providing electronics to children: The ministry sidestepped a question on what was being done to make students from underprivileged backgrounds get access to electronic devices to attend online classes. In response, it simply offered up a link to the India Report Digital Education published by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, which details the schemes and undertakings that have been introduced for online learning. “State governments have been directed to act,” one response said, “to meet the demands of all students including economically weaker students and tribes especially for providing them with the digital access required for learning digitally.”
  2. Central schemes: The government pointed to PM eVIDYA, a scheme it said aims to promote “multi-mode” digital learning through mediums like radio, SMS-based audio requests, toll free numbers and TV in addition to the internet. On television, the government said it was expediting efforts to mobilise Swayam Prabha, a group of 34 DTH education channels, to telecast school study materials.
  3. Study material and accessibility: For study materials, the government pointed to its DIKSHA platform, which contains resources across multiple state and central syllabi, like textbooks, videos, and more. On radio, the government pointed to the Central Board of Secondary Education’s podcast Shiksha Vani. For accessible materials, the responses point to the Digitally Accessible Information System (DAISY) and sign language resources by the National Institute of Open Schooling. The government also pointed to these resources: SWAYAM, e-Pathshala, e-PG Pathshala, Virtual Labs, National Digital Library (NDL) and National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER).
  4. Mental health: In response to a question on what was being done to protect students’ mental health during this situation, the government pointed to Manodarpan, an HRD Ministry initiative for “psychosocial support” to students “during the COVID Outbreak and beyond”.
  5. Guidelines for online education: The ministry pointed to Pragyata, a guide for parents, governments, educators and students for online education. The guidelines, the government said, provide “sufficient Do’s and Don’ts regarding ergonomics and cyber safety”. The NCERT has developed an “Alternative Academic Calendar” for all classes, the MHRD said.
  6. Teacher education: In response to a question on how teachers were being prepared for online classes, the government said that 17.5 lakh teachers were provided face-to-face webinars, while 23,000 state resource persons and 25,000 teachers were taught face-to-face and in “online mode” respectively. Teachers were trained using the ICT module of NISHTHA, an NCERT teacher training resource.
  7. Approval of online courses: Colleges that have a NAAC rating of more than 3.25 can offer their courses online without prior approval from the government, the MHRD said, whereas colleges with NAAC ratings between 3 and 3.26 have to get approvals. For “conventional courses,” MHRD said, online content has been increased to 40% from 20%.
  8. Differentiated strategies for access: Following a survey conducted by the Kendriya Vidyalaya group of schools in July, the government in August put out a series of “Learning Enhancement Guidelines” to improve outcomes for students, depending on whether they have no access to digital tools, some access to digital tools, or adequate access to digital tools. This information was provided to Rajya Sabha BJP MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, who specifically sought out information on the Kendriya Vidyalaya survey.

List of questions and answers (PDF):

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