United Academy

Scope and Challenges of e-Learning in Nepalese Context

Dr. Suman Singh

June 01, 2020
Last updated July 15, 2021
KMC Lalitpur

Amidst the rapidly rising cases of COVID-19 in Nepal, there are no signs of immediate relief from the lockdown that has already exceeded two months. On the contrary, the trend hints towards the further extension of the lockdown or perhaps even stricter measures soon. It is evident how extended lockdown has affected academics and students all over the country. 

e-leaning is one of the latest and far-reaching form of distance education that has brought a dynamic revolution in every aspect of our lives. In this age of technology, e-learning is an opportunity for many, though its implementation and effectiveness are debated in Nepal's academic diaspora. Dr. Yuvraj Khatiwada, the honorable finance minister of Nepal, presenting this fiscal year’s budget for the record third time, cited a likely long term deferral in regular classes in schools and colleges and emphasized on providing continuity to through e-learning methods like virtual classes through radio, television and the internet. In this context, it is crucial to discuss the scope and challenges in e-learning in the context of Nepal.

The major advantage of e-learning is that due to its convenience and flexibility, the resources are available from anywhere and at any time. It extends its reach with the reach of technology and can encompass both part-time students or regular ones. It presents a convenient and flexible option and promotes active and independent learning without restrictions of time, be it weekdays or weekends. Through discussion boards and chats, instructors can also interact with participants online.

However, e-learning comes with its fair share of challenges. It would not prove feasible for adoption without some components of external subsidies and aid. If implemented without consideration of people’s needs and income levels, the benefits of e-learning risk just getting pooled in the small group that can afford it, furthering the prevalent social inequalities. Therefore, cost and wealth can prove to be a challenge to e-learning. Furthermore, e-learning is not an individual technology but rather a system. Thus, as a system, it requires certain pre-requisites before it can be implemented; electricity and the internet being two of the main ones. However, both of them are what many areas around the country lack. 

Even in the city areas, electricity is irregular and its supply is unreliable. Many parts of the country are still not connected to the transmission grid and rely on solar power and other alternative sources of energy to power their homes. In an e-learning method, online assessments are limited to questions that are the only objective. There is also the problem of the extent of the security of online learning programs. Online student feedback tends to be limited. It demands strong self-motivation and time management skills from students and in cases, also causes social isolation. Preventing cheating during online assessments is also complicated.  

It is obvious that, even after the lockdown is eased, it is going to be difficult to resume full-fledged classes for a long time because of the need for social distancing and reluctance from both instructors and participants. With the future uncertain, many schools, colleges, and universities have taken to using online tools to run virtual classes and move ahead with their courses. This is a welcome move to get around this crisis and needs to be encouraged. On a positive note, the government has also geared up and taken initiatives in this direction, which should be applauded and supported by all. Despite the challenges with e-learning methods, the hour of the need is to move forward and adopt e-learning by embracing its challenges and tackle the challenges gradually over time.

Dr. Suman Kumar Singh, DVM, MS (Medicine) is an instructor at Shree Janta Model Technical School, Bideh Nagarpalika, and president of Technical Teacher's Association, Province 02, Nepal.

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