Educational technology has been helping students at all levels of learning today. From school tests to board exams and preparation for competitive exams like CAT, GMAT, GRE, and UPSC, the edTech tools have been able to shift it from boring to fun.
After all, the emphasis of most edTech tools is on UI/UX, design and technology instead of the plain old conventional teaching style. It is true that edtech startups and tools in India have enabled students to learn in a better fashion and use technology to their advantage.
While private schools and institutions are open to adopting edTech tools, in this post, we will be discussing the readiness of government schools in adopting these tools.
According to The Wire, as many as 62% of children in India attended a government primary school in 2014, compared to 72.6% in 2007-08 – indicating a surging preference for private schools – according to an IndiaSpend analysis of data in a recent survey on education released by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). At the upper primary level, the percentage of students in government schools reduced from 69.9% in 2007-08 to 66% in 2014.
This graph below highlights the reasons behind Indian parents who prefer sending their children to private institutions over Government-run schools. According to the study, parents have two primary concerns – a better environment for learning and quality of education, both of which are of utmost importance.
Source: the Wire
There is no surprise when we say that the government schools over the past many years have not developed a good reputation in terms of providing better education. From lack of infrastructure to unqualified teachers and absence of technology-driven facilities like computers; we all have heard the complaints.
However, we cannot overlook the initiatives taken by Jawahar Navodaya Vidhayalas (government-run alternative primary schools for rural children) to provide access to quality education through edTech technology across its 500 schools.
“Students at JNV, especially those from rural areas, have limited exposure to the latest technologies. With the Samsung Smart Class, students are more confident about using technology and that is helping them learn better as well. It is also placing them on a comparable platform with urban counterparts for accessing similar education, and eventually, employment opportunities,” says GS Tomar, Principal of the Dadri-branch of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya to YourStory.
JNV makes use of videos and presentations to teach students and simplify difficult concepts for them. Not only does it help boost interest and curiosity; but it also helps them learn in a better fashion.
What has been the impact?
According to the yourstory, the digital classroom helped boost student attention and reduced absenteeism and school dropout rate significantly. Besides this, it has also improved students familiarity with technology which is quintessential to “digital natives”.
Did you know that children can learn more with the help of technology, if the programme is well designed and implemented, and personalizes content to the child’s existing knowledge level?
So, the question then is – are government schools ready for adopting educational technology? What are the common challenges faced by them today?
#1 Insufficient digital infrastructure
Internet accessibility in the remote (or rural) parts of India is poor. While broadband may not be available, the mobile internet (3G/4G) still be considered a privilege. With Government efforts (especially, Digital India, Make in India and Skill India) in the past 5 years, there has been a shift and a number of remote areas have witnessed better broadband connectivity.
For the government schools in the less remote areas with a decent digital infrastructure, adopting and implementing educational technology is comparatively easier. On the other hand, in remote areas, edTech that allows offline use (with no compromise on features) can be implemented.
Adopting the right type of technology for different category of schools can help boost quality in government schools significantly.
#2 Lack of trained teachers
One of the major problems faced by government schools is the lack of quality trained teachers. With advancements of technology and adoption of edTech software in classrooms, government schools need to partner with edTech startups to launch extensive training sessions for teachers.
It is important that government teachers are trained in all aspects of technology and utilize it to the benefit of students.
These two are definitely the biggest challenges government school face today in the adoption of technology school-wide.
What can government schools do to overcome these challenges?
- Partner with edTech startups to train and skill government teachers. This can be an extension of online portal DIKSHA (a project that uses technology to upgrade the skills of teachers)
- Rapidly implement “Blackboard to digital board” project – It is the government initiative which is aimed to increase digital intensity in education and “will gradually move from Blackboard to digital board”.
- Fund and partner with edTech startups to develop products that are suitable for the needs of the government schools. For example, products that can be used offline.
- The government should focus on digital penetration of low-cost smartphones and tablets which will allow easy access to the educational technology for all.
- Another challenge that the government faces is the Indian Langauge Barrier – We have 22 scheduled languages and many more dialects. If the educational technology focuses on a single language or a single app/web interface language, then it will not be as effective as it could be if it were in a local language. In a multi-linguistic country like India, English content becomes more of a hindrance rather than convenience in India.
If government schools can actively work on these challenges to implement educational technology in the right manner, it will help attract more students, quality teachers as well as reduce dropouts and boost interest and motivation.
It is a known truth that the population of India is more than 1.3 Bn and 50% of it is youth population (an average of 25 years). India is likely to face a dreadful job creation challenge in the near future. So far, the traditional education system, age-old problems with schools, lack of quality education in government schools makes it difficult for us to face this challenge head-on.
Investment in educational technology, partnering with startups and using it to upskill the students and the youth is a positive step forward in dealing with this problem.
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