In India, children constitute 40% of the population. That is nearly 472 million children! They are the future of the nation.  Therefore, it is essential to ensure that these children receive a proper education. It must be noted that India has one of the largest education systems in the world, with more than 1.5 million schools and 8.5 million teachers, and yet has a literacy rate of only 74.37%. In the digital era today, accessing education has become much simpler. Any household with a smartphone enjoys easy access to information and subsequently, education. Why then, is childhood education deteriorating? A major contributing factor is that the quality of educators and schools is sliding downhill. Although we see a steady statistical increase in literacy rates every year, the standards of education are dropping continuously.

One may attribute said deterioration to the hesitancy of parents to send their children to school. In poorer households, parents prefer to find informal employment for their children, thus generating additional income for the household. This means that to increase the literacy rate, the focus needs to be maintained on motivating parents to prioritize education over childhood employment.

Many strategies have been put in place to ensure that parents send their children to school. A simple yet impactful way to do this is to offer cash rewards to high-performing students. This encourages parents to enroll their children in school and encourages the child to perform well. Another effective way to increase the number of children in school is to introduce a free meal system. Parents are attracted to the idea of having their child’s meal taken care of by the school, saving them some money. The free meal system has proved to be successful in driving up numbers of children enrolled in schools in the states of GoaGujaratKeralaMadhya PradeshMaharashtraMeghalayaMizoramNagalandSikkimTamil NaduTripura, and Uttar Pradesh, as well as Karnataka, Orissa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses have revolutionized the education industry making quality education accessible to all. MOOCs are distance-learning courses offered by reputable universities worldwide. The courses offered cover a wide range of topics from art to IT by experts in the field. This is a powerful tool for children to gain an education in any subject of their preference without stepping out of their homes. It solves the problem of parents’ hesitancy towards physically sending their children to school. Moreover, since many of these courses are self-paced, they can be accommodated by anyone’s busy schedule. The following is a list of some of the MOOCs available in India-

1.    Coursera.

2.    edX.

3.    FutureLearn.

4.    Udacity.

5.    Swayam.

6.    Udemy.

From the above MOOCs, one may even earn a degree, entirely virtually!

Credits – Purva Sreekaanth, Francesca Meynell

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