Here at EduTECH Asia we’re incredibly excited to see the impact that education technology, and IT more broadly, is having on the provision of quality, inclusive education around the region. Nowhere is this more true than in India. With a number of leading institutions, both K-12 and tertiary, set to join us from India in November at EduTECH Asia, we assessed the National Policy on Education 2016, and a number of other sources, to take a look into the evolving education paradigm in the world’s second largest country
1. Indian education is focused on three core tenants: equity, accessibility and quality
The impact of technology on driving all three of these core tenants goes without saying. For equity, that is the importance of fairness (personal circumstances shouldn’t impact on success), and inclusion (all individuals reach a basic minimum level), education IT offers untold opportunity to level the playing field and develop deeply personalised educational programmes to suit each user. This personalisation both ensures that top students in India can be continually pushed to excellence, and at the same time that no child is left behind.
For accessibility, the increase in mobility and other low cost computing devices, means that the barrier to entry is in freefall. The Digital India initiative will go a long way to ensuring accessibility of great teaching resources through IT. And finally, education technology can provide teachers in India with easy access to the very best in teaching resources in line with international standards, helping the best Indian students to compete with their peers around the world.
2. Education in India has evolved a great deal in the last 20 years, but there is still a long way to go
Initiatives over the last two decades have included:
- Rights-based approach to elementary education
- Developing student entitlement
- Shift from literacy/basic education to secondary/higher/technical/professional focus
- Universalisation in secondary education
- Reshaping of higher education scenario
Through these key focus points the quality and reach of education throughout the country has doubled the Indian score in the UN’s Education Index from 0.24 in 1980, to 0.473 in 2015 (scores out of 1.0). Nevertheless, India’s position within the global rankings remains abysmal, with inequality and poor educational quality remaining as critical problems. Specific challenges include:
- Teacher vacancies and teacher absenteeism
- Widespread corruption in teacher appointments
- “Donations” requirement for study of certain courses ensures lack of equality
- Flawed examination process including leaked papers, copying and rigged mark sheets
3. A number of key developments are under way to continue the improvement of education outcomes
The Indian government is certainly not sitting back on its laurels, but is instead pursuing key opportunities including:
- Focusing on skills development through vocational education to support rapidly expanding economy
- Driving the need for innovation in student financing to improve accessibility and inclusion
- Addressing the challenges of globalisation and liberalisation and the impact of these meta-trends on educational policy
- Recognition of the need for multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary learning
- Ensuring the efficient use of public resources within education
- Developing solutions to the need for a better avenue for private investment and funding in education
There is also the clear understanding that future improvement within the education sector in India must be based on developing four attributes in students:
This holistic approach to education is heartening, as it acknowledges both the hard and the soft skills essential to the success of Indian students within the world of work.
4. IT implementation is happening slowly, but more can be done to drive usage
By 2015 there were 85,127 ICT enabled schools in India. Whilst this sounds impressive, the fact is that this is just 6% of the total number of schools in the country, and that even out of those ICT enabled schools, many are not using IT as a true aid to education or learning management.
With this in mind there have been six specific areas identified where IT can be effectively implemented to support and improve outcomes. These are:
- IT as aid to the teacher in the classroom
- IT as aid in remedial education
- IT for training of teachers
- IT for adult literacy
- IT modules as learning tools in higher education
- Use of IT for big data as a management and governance tool
There remains a degree of cynicism over the efficacy of IT solutions to solve the education problem in a cost effective manner, however recent case studies such as the Shiksha Karmi Project involving a technology-based mode of information dissemination to instill learning retention amongst children has gone some way to overcome those criticisms.
5. Closing thoughts
With 65% of the 1.3 billion population under the age of 35, there is a huge opportunity to drive India to competitiveness on the global stage. But this can only happen if the education challenges can be solved to a satisfactory level. Here at EduTECH Asia we firmly believe that technology has a vast part to play in realising this opportunity. We will be keeping a close eye on the development of IT policy and case studies in the country, and we look forward to showcasing early wins at the upcoming conference in Singapore. You can find out more about the show by heading through to our website here.