Online education should not remain the privilege of the few, but rather become the ultimate tool for a real democratisation of education in India, said Naidu.
Vice President M Venakaiah Naidu cautioned that issues pertaining to access, quality and affordability might get accentuated with the COVID-19 pandemic and exclude many students in the process, and called for an inclusive approach to online and distance education. While terming the power of online education a “digital bridge" for people in remote areas, he stressed that care must be taken not to exclude students from socio-economically weaker sections and create a “digital divide". To improve the access and affordability of the internet, especially in rural areas, Naidu underscored the need for expeditious implementation of projects such as Bharat Net. The vice president wanted institutions that undertake corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities to prioritise providing electronic devices to school and college students from socially and economically weaker sections, according to an official statement. Naidu also noted the paucity of online courses in Indian languages and called upon private players in the educational technology sector to offer content in more regional languages. In this context, he recalled the tool developed by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) recently which translates English content online into 11 Indian languages and called for more such efforts. “Online education should not remain the privilege of the few, but rather become the ultimate tool for a real democratisation of education in India," Naidu stressed. Virtually addressing the first foundation day celebrations of the Central University of Andhra Pradesh, Ananthapuramu, from his official residence here, the vice president noted how higher education can be a great economic catalyst for the community, bring development to a region and even spur the growth of the country. Noting the positive externalities of higher education, Naidu called for pushing towards more “internationalisation" of the Indian universities. He gave the instance of top global universities which attract international talent every year and have been thriving as centres of excellence, delivering economic benefits to the host nation. In order to achieve the internationalisation of the universities, Naidu stressed the need to promote diversity among faculty and students as also to collaborate proactively with reputed global universities. He suggested encouraging Indian universities to open global campuses, which will also improve the brand value of Indian education. Naidu also wanted universities to engage and work with local communities, utilising their area of expertise.