Every morning, students across the world wake up, get dressed, eat, and head to school. That is, they get dressed, eat, and walk to their computer and begin classes. The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has affected the lives of over one billion children, many of whom now lack education. The US has responded by implementing remote learning across nationwide. European nations have responded similarly, though many, such as Germany, have begun to reopen. However, one nation’s efforts have been greatly overlooked: India. With a population of over a billion combined with widespread poverty and urban crowding, India has taken remarkable steps to further its education amidst the pandemic.
Locked down since March 24th, India’s 300 million students have suddenly found themselves shuttered at home. With many lacking the technology to transition to online learning, ingenious strategies have been proposed by India’s educational system to facilitate education.
It is no secret that Microsoft has heavy influence in India, and vice versa. Indeed, Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, is of Indian American descent. With the launch of Microsoft Teams in 2017, many educators around the world have chosen Microsoft Teams as their preferred platform of teaching. India is no exception. Across India, schools have begun to utilize Microsoft Teams to teach. The British School, an extremely diverse, co-educational school located in New Delhi has made use of Microsoft Teams to continue the usage of collaborative education. “Human beings in general thrive on social interaction, which was missing in traditional e-learning platforms.” said Vanita Uppa, director of the British school. “You can never really replace a teacher because the teacher provides that human interaction, but I think platforms like Teams enable a teacher to be able to reach out to their classroom remotely and continue to interact.”
Many business analysts see COVID-19 as the crucible of India’s online education market. Startups in India have begun to offer free access to their learning programs, which is aiding children in learning across India. In March, Byju’s, an Indian-based learning platform with over 40 million users announced it would give children free access to its learning app. Since then, Byju’s has experienced a 60% increase in usage. With an ever-burgeoning population and growing market, India’s online education market is set to ever grow, and COVID-19 could be the catalyst behind its explosion.
India faces great struggles in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. In 2015, it was reported that only 22% of India’s population had access to the Internet. This meant over 4 in 5 children had no access to the Internet, making remote learning almost impossible. However, there is hope. Internet usage in India has spiked, with hundreds of millions gaining internet access in recent times, with over 500 million regular users by 2019. This access to Internet may be what allows the student population of India to resume their studies. India has overcome many challenges in the past, and this is no exception. With a committed government and determined population, India will solve this problem to its education. Perhaps, as we continuously find ways to educate our students throughout this crisis, we will find strategies that will change how we do education forever.