E-learning or Online learning is a learning system where the learning takes place through the internet by utilizing an electronic device. The demand for E-learning is now a days increasing everywhere. The demand of E-learning was felt during the current situations where the educational institutions are closed and the educational authorities are choosing means of E-learning to reach out to their students.
For success of E-learning, availability of Internet is a crucial part. Depends on the speed of the connection, the learning takes place. While Indian states are using 4G Internet Services, Jammu and Kashmir is lagging behind due to ban on 4G internet services since August 5, 2019. The users are able to surf the Internet at 100-110 kb/s but the speed doesn’t allow them to stream online videos which makes E-learning a dream in J&K.
Due to low Internet Speed, the teachers are unable to deliver the lectures on online Apps like Zoom, Cisco and Google Meet. Same happens on the part of students which results in wastage of time. The videos continue to buffer and the content is not delivered in a proper manner to students. It is believed that users usually came across new things when they explore internet but people in J&K are lagging behind due to frequent internet shutdowns and speed throttle issues. The students and faculty members lack the awareness about Educational apps and the way to teach and study online.
The mobile companies in J&K have covered major cities with 100% network coverage while the people in village are struggling to connect to internet due to low mobile network. It has been seen that the village where the mobile companies install a network site are able to take benefit of online education. While rest of the villages are still struggling with the connectivity issues. The users on low network are unable to get a proper internet speed which hampers the education to a great extent. In a survey made by The Tribune, nearly 600 schools are situated in the border belts of Jammu province from Kathua to Poonch. Due to poor mobile network, the e-learning is a dream for students of these 600 schools.
From the global perspective, online Education system has brought a revolution. Online education system has empowered us to provide education without boundaries, but with respect to Jammu and Kashmir, online education system cannot do much keeping in view the frequent suspension of internet services and speed throttle issues believes Imtiyaz Ahmad who is giving his professional duties as a teacher in a primary school in Pulwama. Mr. Imtiyaz further believes that the students belonging to rural areas of J&K can hardly afford a smartphone. The online education system is a waste for lower primary and primary classes.
The financial condition of families matters a lot in online education. The students belonging to low income families are unable to purchase electronic devices used for continuing online education. In J&K, the families belonging to poor financial status are admitting their students in Govt. run schools. The families are not in a condition to spend their hard earned money in purchasing costly mobile phones for their children. If any parent manages to purchase a mobile phone, the students are unaware of online resources. The parents are finding it very much tough to manage the cost of internet data packs.
Keeping in view all these concerns, it is need of the hour that the administration in J&K should start whitelisting websites for 4G internet services. The mobile companies should be made accountable for establishing mobile towers in in far flung areas and should ensure that each and every village is covered with good network connectivity. Workshops and training programmes should be organized for teachers and students for best use of online resources. The teachers and students should be well awared about online education and the technological means to connect with one another. The administration should come up with a comprehensive policy for providing tablets to students and the computer lab facility should be kept available in every school.
Ishfaq Majid and Shazia Kouser are Jammu and Kashmir based Research Scholars at School of Education, Central University of Gujarat. Their writings have appeared in The Diplomat, Economic and Political Weekly, The Rising Kashmir, Medium, Qatar Tribune, Mainstream Weekly, South Asia Journal and Café Dissensus. Follow them on Twitter: @ishfaqmajid07 and @ShaziaKouser06.