Thanks to the digital India push, several competitive exams are being held online. However, lack of infrastructure, resources, computer labs, and efficient teachers, especially in tier II and tier III cities, is making it difficult for the students to shift to the keyboard.
“Since the government-service exams have gone online, the selection from UP, Bihar, and Jharkhand has dropped down. It is not because of lack of knowledge of the candidates but due to the teething issues related to shift to computers,” said Ashutosh Kumar, an IIT alumnus and co-founder of startup Testbook.com – an online test preparation platform.
“Many college graduates in these areas find it hard to operate a computer. The strategy to attempt exam changes as the mode shifts from offline to online. In the offline exam, all the questions are available at once, while in the online pattern you can see only one question at a time,” added Kumar.
While working closely with the new learners, he observed that the efficiency of students fell from 65/100 to 35/100 when they shifted to digital mode.
“Students need at least 150 hours of practice on the computer to face online tests,” he said. Kumar’s start up is setting up computer centers in remote villages in Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, and neighbouring areas to help students get access to computers.
Somu Kumar, 29, from Bhagalpur in Bihar, cleared RRB PO (Gramin bank) exam this year, but he could clear in his 15th attempt and this was possible only after practicing on the computer. “I could not clear the exam initially because of my inability to operate a computer. I failed because despite knowing the answers it was difficult to attempt the exam as it was the only time I operated a computer. At college and school level, I had never worked on a computer,” added Somu.
Although, Kumar has now completed MBA, he is still not well-versed with computers. However, some improvement is being made at school level. “Computer as a subject is introduced at senior and secondary level (class XI-XII) in schools, however, it is still treated as a lighter subject. The focus should be given to computers right from junior school level so that students from rural areas do not face the challenges that we came across,” shared Kumar.
Yeshwanth Raj Parasmal, managing director, Strategum Eduserve, an education consultancy firm working in tier II and III cities said that the problem lies at school level. Students with limited computer exposure end up having a lower hand despite their analytics skills. “The concept of having a separate computer lab is flawed. We need to integrate computers in our daily teaching system, as it is no longer a standalone subject, but used in every part of life. Students should be exposed to multimedia to make it more playful,” he said.
“Hardware alone will not make any difference. We need to empower our teachers so that they can utilise technology as a tool,” adds Parasmal.
The author – Mr. Yeshwanth Raj Parasmal is the Co-Founder and the Managing Director of Strategum Eduserve Private Limited – India’s leading education management and services company. He is is a young and enterprising Social Entrepreneur committed to usher a change in the education field by contributing to the policy-making and capacity building of institutions.