The marginalised population are finding it difficult to keep up with the sudden shift to digitisation due to the Covid-19 crisis as they are deprived of proper infrastructure. DEF, through its efforts, is preparing the younger generation to fit in a technological advanced world. STEM for Girls (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is a school based programme focused on life skills, career guidance, digital literacy and coding skills. After the country-wide lockdown these classes could not be carried out. So we at DEF initiated e-learning by conducting classes every day for an hour via WhatsApp and conference calls (for those not having smart phones). Currently there are 44 WhatsApp groups with 245 students in Assam and 57 WhatsApp groups in Telangana with 3350 Students. Regular feedback and monitoring is helping with innovative ideas to teach students in online mode.
Although, this transition from blackboards to electronic gadgets in rural India has a number hurdles, this will open a new arena to put more things through online modes with tailor-made content. It will help in reaching out to students irrespective of lockdown, curfew or natural calamity. This outreach will not only serve as a learning platform but also as essential information sharing and awareness generation.
The Covid-19 crisis clearly shows that we are late in ensuring the effective implementation of digital infrastructure in rural India. This time is a calling that what India needs is a public institution system that leverages the opportunities that digital holds for them. What India needs is a contextually relevant digital education system that integrates the knowledge of digital into all aspects, sectors and subjects of life. For education, especially, the last mile connectivity is the need of the hour in rural India which is still struggling with 2G speed.