Skip to content

India: Low Cost Technology Solutions for Education and Its Usage

May 6, 2012

By Elucido

Rural Education: Situation Overview

Rural India accounts for almost 70 per cent of the total population. The recent Census 2011 indicates that of the 1.21 billion population, 833 million live in rural India.

India has one of the lowest enrollment and highest dropout ratios, translating into net enrollment levels among the lowest in the world

More than 40 percent of India’s population is illiterate and cannot read or write. Also, schools in rural areas are inadequate and often equivalent to being non-existent.

Furthermore, according to a World Bank-Harvard University study, in India “with one in four government primary school teachers absent on any given day, and only one in two teaching, India is wasting much of its budget for education”. It is found in the study that India is among the countries with the highest average absence rates of teachers. India has about 25 per cent absence rate of teachers. However, it is interestingly revealed that better infrastructure and frequent inspections in school ensure a lower rate of teacher absenteeism.

According to Mr. Kapil Sibal, Minister for Human Resource Development, India is short of 1.2 million teachers; 42 million children aged between 6 and 14 do not go to school; roughly 16% of all villages do not have primary schooling facilities and 17% schools have just one teacher.

Key concern areas: 

  • Severe neglect in the area of teacher training and diminishing pay scales has caused an acute shortage of expert and competent teachers in every segment of the Indian education continuum, all the way from pre-school to university level.
  • High teacher absenteeism
  • Most of the schools do not have proper infrastructure. So children do not get most of the facilities such as computer education, sports education and extra-curricular activities.
  • There are no proper transport facilities so children don’t like to travel miles to come to school and they have house hold responsibilities as well.
  • There is no access to supplemental education.

Can Technology help to improve the current situation?

While on one hand we have the Government initiating ICT based learning in schools, on the other hand most schools lack infrastructure and basic facilities like toilets. There is also a shortage of quality trained teachers. This is a huge cause of concern. Hence the burning question is how many of these issues can technology effectively address?

The answer to that is definitely not easy. Few of these issues can be addressed through innovative use of ICT based tools. It can to an extent address or minimize infrastructural roadblocks in the educational system and will definitely meet certain pedagogical needs. But it is not easy and cannot be done overnight. Private and Public players need to work together innovatively to enhance the quality of education in India.

The primary area where technology CAN make a difference is in ensuring the consistent availability of quality teaching staff across rural schools.

Challenges in Technology enabled Education

For technology to be effective in these environments, it has to ensure a strong teacher student connect irrespective of the teacher being physically present in the classroom

Also, the curriculum should be presented in a manner that is interactive and engaging to interest the children and retain their attention

One more extremely important aspect to ensure success in this environment is to identify and support students who require special attention very early on during their academic career. This will reduce dropout rates

In addition to the prescribed curriculum, it is important that these students are frequently exposed to industry and academic leaders who can inspire them to work harder and achieve success

Remote teaching & learning solutions should be optimized technically and at the same time made cost-effective and easy to use, to enable high quality collaborative teaching and learning in rural environments that have poor telecommunication infrastructure

To address these challenges, technology should be capable of doing the following:

  • Ensure a single trained teacher can teach students across multiple remote locations
  • Remote teaching should ensure that all physical classroom interaction attributes between the teacher and students and among students are retained across the network of remote connected classrooms. This is to maintain a strong teacher-student connect in spite of the teacher not being physically present in the classrooms. This calls for enabling high quality audio, video and content based interactivity between remote teachers and students, very cost-effectively
  • Use Expert teachers to train teachers across remote locations in order for them to improve their quality of teaching. Rural teachers should be trained in real-time and on the job by professionals located elsewhere
  • Ensure that instant collective assessment of each student is possible across the network of connected classrooms. This will help in identifying students that need special attention at a very early stage in their academic career
  • Built-in tools that can be accessed on-demand, to enhance teacher productivity and student learning
  • Make learning more interactive and fun by delivering rich interactive education content comprising of games, quizzes and other animated multimedia
  • Enable Student to Student interaction across schools. This can ensure that academically successful students can mentor / adopt / collaborate with students who need help. Peer supported learning has proven to be highly successful in helping students with learning problems succeed
  • Industry and academic experts should be able to interact with students in remote locations, in real-time. This could be hugely inspirational to students and teachers in rural environments
  • Ensure on-demand availability of high quality, cost effective education content from multiple sources
  • Make teaching available to multiple, smaller groups of students close to their homes, thus ensuring they do not have to travel long distances to schools

Summary:

Collaboration Technology, along with telecom infrastructure is evolving at a rapid pace in India and is capable of addressing diverse education needs across demographics and geographies cost effectively

Appropriate deployment of cost-effective technology, coupled with quality teaching resources is capable of significantly changing the education environment in India in a relatively short span of time.

Advertisements

From → Education

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: