FLN refers to the ability among children to read with meaning and solve basic math problems by the end of Class 3. These are critical gateway skills that form the foundation for children — much as the terminology suggests — on which they build their lives. While the government endorses India as the flag-bearer of the digital revolution and acknowledges that it is a diverse and multilingual country, as supported by the recently drafted new education policy, Digital learning platforms cannot replicate the various dialects, varied contexts and different lived experiences that are brought together by physical classrooms
Stepping in to an all-encompassing digital future as it seems, even while over 65% of the Indian population resides in the rural areas and towns, yet digitalization has managed to leave its mark. The big question here is how effectively we can digitalize the digital learning experience for children keeping in mind not only the digital divide in the education sector but also the specific learning needs of the children.
As children enter the school system, there is a strong focus on the development of reading and writing skills. Children engage in learning opportunities that have them interacting with many different forms of text, in print and digital forms, using words, visuals and graphics. Students begin to learn
– the rules of language
– how to acquire information, evaluate it, and ethically use it
– how to construct meaning from various kinds of text and how to communicate effectively
Talking about Literacy, learning technology is most useful when it is designed to meet specific needs and contexts, as students may appear to be digitally literate; they might not have the skills required in an educational context. An inclusive digital education means having a learner-centred approach.
The interactivity of technology does not guarantee better learning outcomes. Having said that, the role of teachers in achieving desirable learning outcomes continues to be a central factor, even if technology is implemented to existing education systems. Digitalization of literacy will only work only if the approach is not homogeneous, and it must answer the needs of the students, with assistance provided for children lacking digital skills. The mind-set of the teacher should be of imparting continuous learning. Having said that, digital divide minimization alone will not breakthrough the challenges faced by the digital learning system in education unless we learn and acknowledge, how will children benefit and learn in the process.
According to Dr. Maryanne Wolf’s study on “The reading brain in the digital world” who is a scholar, a teacher, and an advocate for children and literacy around the world – Parents and Educators must have a better understanding of what reading changes in a child’s brain which will simplify the teachers’ task. She mentions, that the brain can rearrange itself in multiple ways to read, depending upon writing systems, educational methods and medium. She mentions when children are being read to, the more regions of language enrichment are being developed by the brain and thus connects the basic brain circuit begins to expand by being connected to the sophisticated cognitive processes. So, it is imperative to help the child to move from the basic circuit to deep reading.
The digital leaning system if continued without necessary supportive measures, the prevailing disparity in the virtual world could translate into widening educational inequalities among learners. If digital learning is the “new normal”, the policy must go further to address the feasibility of digitalization to ensure equity and quality in education
The key is that the individual learning processes and needs must be considered even during online instructions.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
Saktibrata Sen is the Program Director, Room to Read India. He leads the Literacy and the Girls Education Program of the organization. The Literacy Program develops literacy skills and reading habits among children. The Girls’ Education Program supports girls to finish secondary school and works with government stakeholders to advocate for girls’ education. Saktibrata specializes in designing programs that are about quality at scale. Well recognized for his work in Indian scripts and languages, he is passionate about bringing children’s literature into the classroom and loves working with the young adult population and their cause.
Sourav Banerjee is the Country Director of Room to Read India, an International non-profit working in the areas of early grade literacy and girl’s education. As head of the organization, Sourav provides oversight at the country level and represents the organization with governments, donors and other stakeholders. He leads a multidisciplinary team of around 500 staff across nine states of India.
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The CSR Journal Team