January 2018
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Broadband and Literacy in the Digital Age

 ICTpost Education Bureau

Digital literacy can generate new social status and add layers of opportunities to human communication, information and user behaviour

Digital literacy can generate new social status and add layers of opportunities to human communication, information and user behaviour

Internet Technology has provided the global access to information resources in a reasonably negligible cost. Despite the shortcomings like quality, integrity, authenticity and non-refereed nature of information, Internet is a dominant medium for information transmission.

Digital literacy is pivotal to the improvement of the quality of lives of any individual in today’s contemporary world. Any individual cannot be effective and efficient in the running of any enterprise without digital literacy. This has become a necessity in this digital age.

How the 100 mbps broadband lines are going to change lives in our villages and the country’s economy. The simple answer is that our country needs highways to connect seamlessly to boost business and entrepreneurship. Since we never got one, the only possibility is to have information superhighways. High capacity broadband will allow exchange of information in audiovisual formats and conversation in oral formats.

The Rs. 20,000 crore government project to connect all 250,000 Panchayats in the country with 100 mbps lines is like providing 148 kilobits per second (kbps) dedicated lines to every household in rural India. There are 247 million households in India, as per the 2011 Census. If we divide the number of rural households of 168 million by the total number of Panchayats, we have 672 households in a Panchayat to share 100 mbps broadband lines. It is interesting to see how the government and private companies view this upcoming information infrastructure because the biggest question for all of us is: will the folks in our villages who live a life based on necessities be willing to pay for info highways.

Supplementary Education
The low standards of education are in part caused by the fact that there are not enough teachers appointed which means the ratio of teachers to students is very low in the rural areas. Also, the academic environment provided by the school therefore does not inspire or engender an interest in learning. The children in these communities are in need of additional educational opportunities. Unfortunately there are few opportunities for tutoring and reinforcement of school learning.

Socio-economic Impact
Digital literacy can generate new social status and add layers of opportunities to human communication, information and user behaviour. The livelihood activities of rural families are no longer confined to farming and are increasingly being diversified through rural-to-urban and international migration. The story of migration has its own tales of sorrow as several youths turn into rag pickers and families have to live in inhuman conditions in urban areas. The digital skills encouraged village youths towards entrepreneurship. This can be a model which can be easily replicated to the other Indian villages.

Critical Thinking
Skills development must be a key component of education strategies – whether that’s equipping young people with digital or information literacy skills, or training teachers to use technology to deliver 21st century learning skills. Unfortunately, access to skills training is unequal – poor young women are least likely to have skills to become a productive force in the economy. There are countless experiences watching students in Indian villages memorizing and regurgitating information rather than being taught critical thinking, problem solving, and ways to communicate ideas effectively. These transferable skills are often missing in educational systems, but are essential to innovate and compete in a global workforce. editor@ictpost.com

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