02 Jul Ed-Tech
(GS PAPER- 2, Issues Relating to Development
Source- Indian Express)
- India’s school education landscape is facing challenges. The country was reeling under an acute learning shortage, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, as reflected by successive ASER surveys
- The covid pandemic threatens to exacerbate this crisis and challenge, especially due to the physical closure of 15.5 lakh schools and colleges that has affected more than 248 million students for over the year of 2020-21.
- Combined with this learning crisis, the emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has made it imperative and mandatory to reimagine education and align it with the unprecedented technological transformation and change.
Need & Opportunities For Ed-Tech-
Targeted Benefits of Ed-Tech:
- Technology holds promise and has incredible potential in
- Enabling greater personalization of the education system
- Enhancing educational productivity and outcome by improving rates of learning,
- To reduce costs of instructional material and service delivery at scale
- Proper utilization of teacher/instructor time.
Need to be Induced By Pandemic:
- Further, as traditional and cultural brick-and-mortar service delivery models are being disrupted across sectors, the pandemic offers a critical,
- yet stark, a reminder of the impending and important need to weave technology into education.
National Education Policy 2020:
- India’s new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is responsible for the clarion call to integrate and associate technology at every level of instruction and guidelines.
- It envisions the establishment of an autonomous and self-regulated body, the National Education Technology Forum (NETF), to spearhead efforts towards providing a strategic thrust to the deployment and use of technology.
The promise of Ed-Tech:
- The Indian ed-tech ecosystem has so much potential for innovation.
- With over 4,500 start-ups and a current valuation of around $700 million, the market is geared for exponential growth — estimates project an astounding market size of $30 billion in the next 10 years
Steps Taken by the Government:
- India is well-poised to take this leap forward with increasing access to tech-based infrastructure, electricity, and affordable and reasonable internet connectivity, fueled by flagship programs such as Digital India
- Government of India’s Aspirational District Programme, on tech-enabled monitoring and implementation that emphasizes citizen engagement, partnerships, and effective service delivery.
Some examples of grassroots innovation in Ed-Tech-
- The Hamara Vidhyalaya in Namsai district, Arunachal Pradesh, is fostering tech-based performance assessments in India.
- Assam’s online career guidance portal is strengthening and felicitating school-to-work and higher-education transition for students in grades 9 to 12;
- Samarth in Gujarat is facilitating and motivating the online professional development of lakhs of teachers in collaboration with IIM-Ahmedabad India;
- Jharkhand’s DigiSAT is spearheading and impacting behavior change by establishing stronger parent-teacher-student linkages;
- Himachal Pradesh’s HarGhar Pathshala is providing digital education for children with special needs and felicitation.
- Uttarakhand’s community radio is promoting and cultivating early reading through byte-size broadcasts;
- Madhya Pradesh’s DigiLEP is delivering content for learning enhancement through a well-structured mechanism with over or more than 50,000 WhatsApp groups covering all clusters and secondary schools;
- Kerala’s Akshara Vruksham model is focusing on digital education to support and motivate learning and skill development via games and activities.
Associated Issues With Ed-Tech-
Lack of Technology Access:
- Not everyone who can afford and understand going to school can afford to have phones, computers, or even quality and uninterrupted internet connection for attending classes online.
- According to National Sample Survey data for 2017-18, only 42 percent of urban and 15 percent of rural households had good internet access.
- In this case, Ed-tech can increase and expand the already existing digital divide.
In Contradiction with Right to Education:
- Technology is not affordable and accessible to all, shifting towards online education completely is like taking away or moving away from the Right to Education to those who cannot access the technology.
- Moreover, the National Education Policy 2020 that is talking about the digitization of education is also in contradiction with the right to education.
Comprehensive Ed-tech Policy:
- A comprehensive Ed-tech policy architecture should focus on four key elements-
- Providing access and link to learning, especially to disadvantaged groups;
- Enabling processes of teaching, learning, and evaluation outcome;
- Facilitating teacher training and continuous professional development of them;
- Improving governance systems including planning, management, monitoring processes, and outcomes.
Technology is a Tool, Not a Panacea:
- Public educational institutions play an important role in social inclusion and relative equality.
- It is the place where people of all genders, classes, castes, creeds,s, and communities can meet without one group being forced to bow to others.
- Therefore, technology cannot substitute schools or replace teachers or mentors. Thus, it should have to be “teachers versus technology” but should be “teachers and technology”.
Providing Infrastructure for Ed-Tech:
- In the instant term, there must be a mechanism to thoroughly map the ed-tech landscape, especially their scale, reach, and impact on the nation.
- The focus should be on access, availability, equity, infrastructure, governance, and quality-related outcomes and challenges for teachers and students.
- Special attention must be put to address the digital divide at two levels — access and skills to effectively use technology and leverage its benefits.
- In the short to medium-term, the policy formulation and planning process must work to enable convergence across schemes (education, skills, digital governance, and finance)
- There is also a need and importance to foster the integration of solutions through public-private partnerships, factor invoices of all relevant stakeholders, and bolster cooperative federalism across all levels of government.
Replicating Success Models:
- In the broader term, as policy translates to practice at local levels and technology-based solutions become ubiquitous, a repository of the best-in-class technology solutions, good practices, management, and lessons from successful and progressive implementation must be curated.
- The NITI Aayog knowledge hub and the Ministry of Education’s DIKSHA and ShaGun platforms can facilitate and amplify such learning.
- The journey from a holistic and comprehensive strategy to its successful application will, no doubt, be a long one. It requires and necessitates careful planning, sustained implementation, and calculated course corrections.
- With NEP 2020 having set the ball rolling, a transformative and moving ed-tech policy architecture is the need of the hour to effectively maximize student learning.