India’s Digital Divide and Kerala’s ‘First Bell’: A Radical & Alternative Form of Digital Education During COVID-19


Education suffered one of the biggest blows due to Covid-19 in 2020-22. As educational institutes moved to digital-online teaching and learning, ‘digital divide’ or the unequal access of the internet and other digital tools among students, turned out to be a major impediment in its proper conduct & success. In India, caste, class and gender barriers are major contributors to the digital divide, and with the pandemic, this also caused an increased chasm between those who could afford to learn despite difficulties and those who couldn’t. This led to widespread discontent and protests by students of various ages across India, raising demands to reopen educational institutes, to provide students with free internet and other digital requirements etc. However, a small state in India’s southern end called Kerala came up with an innovative and reformative form of pedagogy in the same period, that stressed on egalitarianism and justice. For a state with high television penetration, the Left-wing state government’s well-structured ‘First Bell’ programme proved useful for students from all backgrounds, and when compared to other Indian states, was able to bridge the digital gap to a great extent. It democratised digital education by making the lessons not only available via the internet but on the government’s TV channel too, and secondly, it provided and campaigned to provide students with free laptops, TVs and other gadgets required for e-learning. This paper is on ‘First Bell’ as a radical and alternative form of digital-online education, with an investigation of its methods and results.

Author Information
Mukulika Radhakrishnan, University of Sussex, United Kingdom

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2023
Stream: Education

This paper is part of the ACE2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Radhakrishnan M. (2024) India’s Digital Divide and Kerala’s ‘First Bell’: A Radical & Alternative Form of Digital Education During COVID-19 ISSN: 2186-5892 The Asian Conference on Education 2023: Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon