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Online learning has widened racial, gender divide in education: OUP study

Online learning has widened racial, gender divide in education: OUP study

April 13, 2021
– Reshma Ravishanker

In India, the transition to online learning has put girl children in an unfavorable position, says a report from the Oxford University Press (OUP) titled ‘Education: The journey towards a digital revolution’.

The pandemic-prompted shift to online education has brought to the fore gender and racial inequalities in education. The transition to digital education has widened the gap between those at an advantage and the disadvantaged, the report reveals.

The Oxford University Press consulted 47 employee experts from across seven markets where it has operations in including the United Kingdom, Turkey, Spain, South Africa, Brazil, India and Pakistan in February 2021 while also gathering data from third party research.

“In India, respondents warned of the impact of the transition to digital learning on the education of girls, especially where, they said, ‘the family has been unable to provide multiple devices to children within the family’, the report states. “Inequality and the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged groups are still getting bigger,” said a respondent.

In the United States, students of colour were three to five months behind in learning while white students were lagging behind by one to three months.

The report also draws a comparison between the urban-rural sectors. Even as it indicates that the uptake of digital learning is ‘quite significant’ in India’s metropolitan cities, infrastructural challenges and inadequate training have ‘muted’ the impact of digital learning in smaller cities and rural areas.

Almost four in 10 (36 per cent) respondents agreed that digital platforms or learning technologies were the primary modes of delivering education during the pandemic. Another 53 per cent had moved to a split between digital and more traditional methods, like in-person learning or print resources.

In India, respondents noted unstable internet connections in some parts of the country and low broadband penetration in semi-urban and rural areas.

Respondents in most countries agreed that the future will be hybrid but digital education will not be a replacement for in-person teaching.

The future of learning in India

• There will be significant demand for blended products that can demonstrate improved learning outcomes and support effective teaching.

• Teachers will continue to use some of the digital teaching-learning tools and solutions to enable learning.

• A hybrid model with a blend of remote/online learning with face to face learning.

Also read: 

Protecting children’s eyes during online learning

Why schools must prepare for a shift to online learning in 2021

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