‘Digital Divide’ for Indian Schools; and Some Other Related Things

An Incomplete Reading List

This was conceived as an article initially. However, as the months rolled and the sense of uncertainty increased, schools grew more and more uncompromising towards students and teachers, the debilitating effects of which I could see first-hand at home. With rising anxiety and the undue stress of unreasonable work hours, unnecessary workload, strange software updates and next-to-none professional support, it became almost impossible to continue writing. Here is then, a reading list, which was supposed to be my bibliography. What I could have written, others write better.

  1. This video gives an overview of what “digital divide” means in the Indian school education context: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAT8t0bK4ik
  2. This is a comprehensive report and survey of the (lack of) digital infrastructure in Indian homes; it speaks about the gendered nature of this lack as well: https://www.ideasforindia.in/topics/human-development/disparity-in-access-to-quality-education-and-the-digital-divide.html
  3. PARI’s report on rural digital divide: I call this a report because it has “data”. However, it humanises the data and statistics by reporting individual stories and accounts of people and their lives and how they are responding to “digital partition”(The latter term is necessarily unsettling with its traumatic evocations). : https://ruralindiaonline.org/articles/schoolkids-digital-divide-to-digital-partition/
  4. One is also reminded of Devika Balakrishnan in this respect: https://scroll.in/article/963681/kerala-students-suicide-is-yet-another-reminder-of-indias-digital-divide
  5. For the girl student, digital divide can mean the end of education altogether : https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/07/23/india-girls-schooling-online-struggle/
  6. For differently-abled students, online classes have been a nightmare: https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/latest-studies/story/disabled-students-at-risk-of-dropping-out-as-they-are-unable-to-cope-with-online-learning-report-1701761-2020-07-18
  7. This is an article about Kashmir, which had had internet shutdowns for over a year now: https://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/opinion/e-learning-and-digital-divide-in-the-pandemic/
  8. While on one hand digital divide means lack of infrastructural access, on the other, it also means lack of familiarity and orientation to exist in the digital space. Private schools have been burdening teachers with enormous amount of work load, with little to none pedagogic support. The mental health conversation about teachers’ stress is not even initiated. Some examples: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/stress-filled-life-for-teachers-at-virtual-classes/articleshow/77176412.cms
  9. On top of this, teachers are facing rampant cyber harassment, which is a symptom of both lack of pedagogic support from institutions, and lack of cyber crime awareness. This is nightmarish: https://scroll.in/article/961738/for-many-of-indias-teachers-online-classes-amid-lockdown-have-been-an-awful-experience
  10. Proctoring exams have begun in some private schools, and the surveillance model is adding to a lot of undue stress on students. For lack of reports on this, I have added a non-India centric article. I heard about a private school in Delhi, where the AI shrieked “CHEATING” if anybody entered the room where the student was giving exams: https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/29/21232777/examity-remote-test-proctoring-online-class-education.
  11. One must talk about the mental health of everyone involved in school education in this uncertain scenario: https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/opinion/columnists/by-invitation/uncertainty-over-school-reopening-mental-health-of-children-needs-attention/articleshow/76266031.cms
  12. An important blog article that appeals to every stakeholder of school education(teachers, students and guardians) to be patient with each other. Absolutely agree with these lines here, “Let us be clear, as an employer, the school has to take care of employment, not the customer i.e. parents/students. But, what has happened is that the schools have pitched the teachers cleverly against parents (ever seen a parent writing emotional letters to his/her organization’s customers?). In this disaster, parents and teachers need to be together to overcome the profit-minded mentality, which does not exist in a teacher’s pure mind.” : https://medium.com/@digital_plus_mad/private-schools-in-india-and-the-corona-lockdown-98598d1fc3fe
  13. What the digital divide has revealed about the divide that was already present in Indian classrooms: https://www.financialexpress.com/education-2/online-learning-and-education-for-all-during-and-after-covid-19-pandemic/2021940/
  14. An intervention that have helped to some extent: http://www.anticaste.in/left-government-of-kerala-builds-12250-study-rooms-for-dalit-students-8500-more-in-the-offing/
  15. Other ways in which teachers are helping: https://indianexpress.com/article/education/west-bengal-parents-collect-printed-study-materials-from-madrassas-to-close-digital-divide-6526178/

Image source: https://medium.com/@ShwetaBarupal/digital-divide-a-critical-analysis-7156333237f7

Bio

Titas Bose is a PhD student at University of Chicago, working on post-independent Bengali children’s fiction. She completed her Mphil from Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2018, which was a study of Bengali folktale anthologies for children in the twentienth century. She has worked as a English teacher in Cambridge School, Sriniwaspuri and then as a Critical Writing Preceptor at Ashoka University.

She is a co-founder of the Delek Archives.

Published by The Delek Archives

This project intends to archive instances of identity and religion-based discrimination in schools. It will map policies, surveys, curriculum evaluation and self-reflections; with a larger goal to providing a vision for justice, equity and inclusivity in school education.

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