Although the government and authorities have introduced alternative educational platforms many students specially the marginalized and students in the rural areas and people who belong to the lower income groups were unable to use these methods. The major reasons for this situation could be listed as follows
- Unavailability or inability to purchase devices (smart phones or computer) required for online education (Availability)
- Inadequate infrastructure and technical knowledge (Accessibility)
- In sufficient income and facilities to engage online platforms (Affordability)
- Inadequate validation of the educational material (Quality issues)
- Lack of assessment on the functioning and performance of the alternative platforms (Monitoring and Evaluation)
Although the above issues have been distinctly listed for the purpose of better understanding, in the practical situation all these are deeply interconnected and has created complex situation. To overcome these issues and ensure inclusive equitable access to education, CED decided to initiate an advocacy campaign to lobby the authorities and relevant parties to implement the relevant action.
Message i- Appreciates teachers who volunteered to utilize alternative teaching methods. During the period where the schools have been closed, some teachers came forward to teach their students voluntarily. Firstly, they used social media to conduct classes and prepared lessons and tutorials on their cost and shared with students.
Message ii – Request the teachers and owners of the private education institutes to reduce the charges to reasonable level. It was observed and several people complained that the tuition fee has been increased during this period. Beside that additional charges for printing and distribution of tutorials have been added. In fact, the cost for maintaining and conducting online classes are comparatively low when compared to face to face of physical classes. Despite the fact these charges have been increased and parents have found it difficulties in paying the additional fees. Therefore, the teachers or the institutes were asked to review the charges and reduce the amount to a reasonable rate. This is important as the income level of the ordinary people specially the informal sector employees have been reduced because of the pandemic situation.
Message iii- Requested the authorities to develop infrastructure for the online learning platforms and ensure the equal access to every student. Most of the rural areas do not have the necessary facilities for online learning. Therefore, students as well as teachers are unable to conduct classes. On the other hand, most of the parents do not have adequate income sources in this pandemic situation to provide their children with necessary facilities. CED expected the messages to reach approximately to 10 million listeners through the period.
CED was able reach more that 1.3 million audience(daily) and created awareness on the issues related to education due to pandemic situation and make them sensitive through these radio messages.1