The Vice President, M Venkaiah Naidu today called for bridging the digital divide to achieve universal primary education and ensure equitable secondary and higher education.Releasing the book, ‘Future of Education-Nine Megatrends’ virtually through a video conference, he said “technology opens up new possibilities but also makes us realize the big digital divide in our society”. The book was brought out by ICT Academy, a non-profit society and an initiative of the Government of India and the state governments.Stressing the need to make technology accessible and affordable, the Vice President pointed out that there were many children who did not have access to digital devices. “We will have to address the issue of this wide gap”, the Vice President added.Shri Naidu said that a large number of students were impacted due to the lockdown as they find it hard to study online. Many of them need hand holding to shift from offline to online and require proper training to pursue education through online modes.Stating that many parents in India still cannot afford digital devices, he said that bridging the digital divide was too big and complex for the government alone to accomplish the task and urged the private sector, especially educational technology firms to contextualize the products at affordable prices as per the needs of learners. “This is your time to make a momentous contribution to nation building and to securing a bright future for all our children”, he added.
Quoting the Prime Minister, the Vice President said that in future “online should be main line, so that there is no need for any line”. He appealed to all stakeholders to follow the PM’s three word mantra of ‘Reform, Perform and Transform’ to create a better future.With educational institutions going digital in the context of the pandemic, the Vice President said students and teachers were connecting through cloud-based platforms to communicate, share work, and complete projects. “Examinations are also being conducted online”, he added.Observing that Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality will enter classrooms more rapidly, Shri Naidu said this would transform the way teachers teach and students learn.Urging teachers to impart teaching in tune with the changing requirements, the Vice President said that students can access machines anytime from anywhere in the wake of online laboratories. “The teacher now plays the role of a facilitator, guide, counselor, coach and many a time that of a friend to the student”, he added.
Observing that the huge demographic advantage is waiting to be converted into a demographic dividend, Shri Naidu said “we should not miss this opportunity. We should enhance access to knowledge and skills to all children so that each one of them realizes his or her innate potential”.Highlighting the importance of value-based education, the Vice President called for developing a model of education that reflects Indian culture and ethos. “We need to inculcate cultural, moral, ethical and spiritual values among children”, he added.