Education technology solution provider TeamLease Edtech surveyed over 700 students and officials from 75 Indian universities to assess the learning gap in higher education during the pandemic. Nearly 85% of the student respondents believe they failed to learn 40-60% of their course material, it says.
Manjula Chowdhry, Dean (Academics) at Haryana’s Kurukshetra University, said grades didn’t reflect learning loss since exams were being conducted online. “Everybody is getting high marks, but when you interact with them, you realise the learning is not happening except for a small number of students who are self-motivated and can learn on their own,” she said.
P Subrahmanya Yadapadithaya, VC of Mangalore University, pointed out that online education couldn’t be used to train students in soft skills. He observed that students’ answers in online examinations “showed poor grasping and internalisation process”.
The gap in learning outcomes has been acknowledged across the world. World Bank data indicate nearly 220 million students have faced the brunt of the pandemic’s impact on education. However, the perceived learning gap among students in advanced nations and India is stark.
The survey blamed five factors for the gap in learning: a digital divide, slow governance in government institutions, pre-existing capacity deficits, longer lockdowns in India than other countries and weak online learning content.
C L Dewangan, registrar of Hemchand Yadav Vishwavidyalaya in Chhattisgarh, said students scored well in open book exams, but that didn’t reflect in their knowledge levels. “Sixty percent of the students who would not have been promoted are currently getting promoted with good marks,” he said.
Mohammed Nafees Ahmad Ansari, director of the Centre for Distance and Online Education at Aligarh Muslim University, said the learning gap is visible to teachers.
There has also been a decline in the participation of women students due to their inability to access digital platforms, Ansari said.
Shantanu Rooj, CEO of TeamLease Edtech said that a major reason for the learning gap was because India’s educational ecosystem was not digitised in time. Rooj said their research indicated it will take close to three years to bridge this learning gap.