The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Disability, State and Online Education in India during COVID-19

Anuj Goyal, University of Delhi (India)


Galvanized against a call for massive economic restructuring to make education fiscally viable, digitally-mediated education has presented itself as a possible solution. At the same time, it has been a target for critics who view this shift as a way that largely disregards the questions of social justice. Based on the data collected from sixteen disabled research participants through structured and semi-structured interviews, this paper argues that the measure to shift to online mode of education in India overlooked the concern of the disabled students in an already technologically-constrained situation. The analysis takes inspiration from grounded theory, case study method as well as phenomenological research to develop an understanding of embodied experiences of such students. Deliberate or non-deliberate negligence (indicated by lack of functioning grievance redressal mechanism, access to assistive technology, etc), lack of sensitivity, harrassment, discrimination, patronization was found to be rampant in the narratives of the participants. These were not just behavioural in nature, but institutional altogether. It is for such reasons that most participants preferred offline (in-person) schoolingg over its digital counterpart. The paper argues that if digital education is the ‘future’, it must hold itself against the standard of inclusivity, affordability, and accessibility for those who are forced to come to terms with what the nexus of the State and market decides on their behalf.
Keywords: Online education; disability and online schooling; lack of accessibility; exclusion

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