India Formulating a National Policy on ICT in School Education
September 2008

India Formulating a National Policy on ICT in School Education

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At  the eINDIA2007, Ministry of Human Resource Development announced the need for a National Policy on ICT in School Education, for which it initiated a consultative process along with Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative to address the 21st century challenges in teaching and learning using technology tools. A draft document was developed under the guidance of Ministry of HRD, Department of School Education & Literacy through a series of consultations with major stakeholders in the ICT in Education domain; including national consultations, workshops and a series of e-discussions pertaining to integration of ICTs in school education.

As part of efforts to take this dialogue forward with the government functionaries and experts on methods of effective implementation of ICT in school education, a panel discussion was organised at eINDIA2008 on July 30, 2008. The broader objective was  to create opportunity for discussion on three vital issues concerning effective implementation of ICTs in schools, namely,

  • Should there be a national vision for integrating ICTs in school education? Is effective implementation of  ICTs in schools impeded by lack of a guiding document portraying a national focus.
  • States bear the onus of effective implementation of ICTs in schools. What should the policy document prescribe to aid the process of its implementation in states?
  • What are the challenges faced during its implementation and possible ways to combat these challenges?

We present you the report of the Policy session in Digital Learning India 2008 ‘Perspective of States as Implementers’ The learnings and recommendations derived from the panel discussion have been collated and presented to the Ministry of HRD to enable a participatory and informed policy  formulation with strategic guidelines to all stakeholders.

Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, along with Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI), founded by the UN ICT Task Force, and CSDMS has initiated a consultative process to formulate ‘National Policy on ICT in School Education’ to address the needs and challenges for teaching and learning in the 21st century using technology tools.

A draft document was developed under the guidance of  Ministry of HRD’s Department of School Education & Literacy through a series of consultations with major stakeholders in the ICT in Education domain; including national consultations, workshops and a series of e-discussions pertaining to integration of ICTs in school education.

To take this dialogue forward with the government functionaries from the Centre and States and experts in the field of education on effective implementation of ICTs in school education, a panel discussion was organised at eINDIA2008 on July 30, 2008.

The consultation provided an opportunity to gather regional knowledge on the experiences and challenges involved in implementing ICTs in schools, especially in rural schools.

The State representatives shared their perspective on the challenges/ impediments that they have faced while implementing and integrating ICT programmes in the school education system. The panel experts thereafter provided a deeper understanding of the policy process and responded to concerns and issues raised by State representatives and participants in the session.

The broad objective of the panel discussion was to create opportunities for discussion on three crucial and vital concerns which need to be addressed for effective implementation of ICTs in schools. These concerns are:

  • Should there be a National Vision for integrating ICTs in School Education? Is effective implementation of ICTs in Schools impeded by the lack of a guiding document portraying a National focus?
  • States bear the onus of effective implementation of ICTs in Schools. What should the policy document prescribe to aid the process of implementation in schools to ensure maximum learning advantage for students?
  • What are the challenges faced during implementation and possible ways to combat these challenges?

Secretary, School Education & Literacy, Ministry of HRD, Arun Kumar Rath was the Chief Guest and key note speaker. The session was chaired by Joint Secretary, School Education & Literacy, Ministry of HRD, Subhash C Khuntia and moderated by GeSCI Country Director, India, Ashish Garg.

In his key note address, Arun Kumar Rath highlighted the aggressive investments and actions on the part of Government of India to provide quality education to all children of the country. The universalisation of primary education has been nearly achieved with about 97% children and habitats covered at primary school level. This coverage is about 90% at upper primary school level. The Government has ensured provision of at least one primary school within 1 km. and upper primary school within 3 km.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is the flagship programme of the Government to achieve Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE). SSA in partnership with State governments seeks to provide quality elementary education, including life skills and also computer education to bridge the digital divide.

Rath announced the launch of Rashtriya Madhyamik Abhiyan (RMA) in near future to show the Government’s determination and commitment to address the needs, challenges and priorities of education at secondary level. RMA will be the new educational flagship programme of the Government at the secondary level on the lines of SSA. The Government will provide necessary funds, resources and capacity building to upgrade 40,000 secondary schools in the country to become good quality schools. The goal would be to have one best school in every block and especially every backward block.
Rath also dwelved upon the questions that need to be reflected upon: What is the value of ICT in school education? Is there a need for a National Vision? What should the National Policy prescribe? What are the challenges which the states face while implementing ICTs? At the outset of her address, Ashish Garg presented the Compendium on National Policy on ICT in School Education: A Multi-Stakeholder Perspective to the Secretary, Education, Chair and panelists.
She briefly discussed the consultative process initiated last year to enable an informed discourse and perspective sharing among all stakeholders in order to identify the needs, challenges and priorities to be addressed in the proposed
National Policy of ICT in School Education. She highlighted the objectives and expected outcomes from the panel discussion, which revolved around three questions mentioned above in the report. Moderator Ashish Garg, Country Programme Director-India, GeSCI Arun Kumar Rath with the Compendium on A National Policy for ICT in School Education – A Multi-Stakeholder Perspective
Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 9 September 2008 53 S C Khuntia, who chaired the session, called for bringing uniformity and clarity amongst the States on implementation of ICTs in education. A set of coherent implementing guidelines giving a broad direction to the States are required. The document would be a reference point for all levels. He emphasised the need for consultations in evolving a robust and dynamic policy which would make ICT integration at schools easier. A dynamic and flexible policy would help the States in leveraging ICTs in school education. Khuntia pointed out three key challenges in education, viz., access, equity and quality, especially at secondary level. ICTs may play a major role in addressing them. The proposed ICT policy is expected to further the educational objectives. He stressed on addressing issues related to infrastructure, connectivity, content, teachers training, best practices, M&E and PPP. He also called for reflections on targets and timelines for implementation. The policy may also provide standards and norms for procurement and other areas, which States require. In conclusion, Khuntia invited all the stakeholders, including teachers, students, NGOs etc. to come forward and contribute in the process. ‘We have to move from ICT labs to ICT enabled classes in our schools,’ he added. The second part of the session saw two presentations by State  epresentatives from Gujarat and Jharkhand. Secretary, Primary Education, Gujarat, Anita Karwal presented State’s perspective on proposed ICT policy and shared the State’s experience with Computer Aided Learning in schools. Gujarat has covered 5,371 schools till date through BOOT model. Remaining 14,885 schools will be covered in current year with the same model. 23 Multimedia based CD have been developed for Maths, EVS and Co-curricular activities in collaboration with  zim Premji Foundation for classes 3 to 7. Teachers have been trained with the help of INTEL, she added. Some of the challenges faced by Gujarat in implementation
of ICTs in schools i clude procurement, capacity limitations, scale, remoteness, language, quickly changing technology, software, connectivity and operating  ystems. Karwal made ollowing suggestions for the National Policy on ICT in School Education: Standardise procurements – should we procure hardware,
software or services Connectivity options Research based benchmarking of expected outcomesaccreditation of schools for CAL Constant review of policy to ensure availability of latest technology ICT policy for standardising database for creating national grid for enabling child tracking/mapping, monitoring drop out, retention Funding – under SSA of computer labs/ rooms, service oriented CAL programme Principal Secretary, Department of IT, Jharkhand, Ram Sevak Sharma made a presentation on experience, challenges and needs of education in the State. Some of the educational challenges faced by the State include  access, retention, quality  f education, quality of teachers, para-teachers of poor quality and poor infrastructure, he said. The State’s experience inimplementing ICTs in schools has been positive, supported by third party evaluations. In the near future, the State plans to provide computer education and computer-aided learning to all government school students of Class IX to  II. He said Jharkhand has also Anita Karwal, Secretary, Primary Education, Gujarat Chair Subhash C Khuntia, Jt Sec, Dept of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of HRD 54 September 2008 | www.digitalLearning.in experimented with following models for implementing ICTs in education: Total government ownership of equipments and their maintenance Total outsourcing of hardware, software and teachers/ manpower Hybrid solution : Hardware, its maintenance and training with service provider, teachers and customised software with state
He said the experience with various options has enabled the State to consider  he following model for implementing ICT in  eaching and learning in schools in future: BOO model for 5 years Service Provider (SP) provides hardware, maintains it, trains teachers Service Level Agreement (SLA) becomes the yardstick  to measure SP’s performance through a Third Party Monitoring Agency (TPA) Flexible to accommodate various implementation models Takes care of variation in infrastructure availability – power, connectivity, manpower Focus on internal capacity building Leverage private sector efficiencies Promote open source and standards Flexibility in financial norms Sharma emphasised on the need to address the following issues in the proposed ICT  olicy:  lexible to accommodate various implementation models Takes care of variation in infrastructure availability – power, connectivity, manpower  Focus on internal capacity buildingLeverage private sector efficiencies  Promote open source and standards Flexibility in financial norms Following the State presentations, the expert panelists took  the opportunity to share their perspective on issues raised by the States and responded to some of the concerns. There was consensus amongst the panelists about a supportive role of ICTs in education. According to Prof Vasudha Kamat, Joint Director, Central
Institute of Educatio al Technology, ICTs are not the sole answer to all the problems. However, it will change the way we learn and share knowledge. ICTs may address the issues of access and quality of education.  Prof. M M Pant, Former Pro Vice-Chancellor, IGNOU, found the potential of ICTs in improving  the learning levels of students. ICT is no more an added advantage but an essential aspect of higher education. ‘If ICT is the answer, what is the  question? Is it education for all or quality education for all? Are we going to concentrate on Art of Teaching or the Science of Learning? What is our goal? Good students with the help of good teachers doing well or mediocre students with average, ordinary teachers doing well?’ We need teaching methods propagated through technology which enables 80% of the Ram Sevak Sharma, Principal Secretary, Jharkhand Vasudha Kamat, Jt Dir, CIET, NCERTM M Pant, Former Pro VC, IGNOU Digital Learning | Vol 4 Issue 9 September 2008 55 population to learn better. The faster one learns and more independently they learn the better. Uzbekistan has made computer education mandatory in schools and has issued
certifi cations withou  which one cannot enter jobs. India should learn from such examples, he said. Shakila Shamsu, Joint Advisor, Planning Commission, emphasised on the need to move from teacher to student centric learning, which can be ably supported by ICTs in short time. ICT should be the major factor with teachers just being the facilitators in class. She expressed concern over dearth of good quality e-content in Indian languages. Developing e-content is very important. Though software developers have already started addressing the market needs, governments also need to recognise the importance of content development. Shamsu also felt that there was need to overcome teachers’ resistance to using technologies. Technology phobia faced by teachers should receive immediate attention and computer education for them should be made mandatory and added as part of teachers training, she added. According to Prof. Utpal Malik, Head Computer Division, NCERT, although computer materials for schools are being developed at a fast pace, ICT is still a virtual aspect in class. It has still to become reality. Good hardware or software may not be enough for good education. ICT has to be integrated in the 40 min of classroom curriculum. He said it is time we teach the children to think out of box. It’s like a health drink – stronger, sharper and taller. Project based learning is the best. The need of the hour is to develop a model which is replicable, scalable and suitable for average teachers teaching poor students.
At the end of the session, the expert panelists also res onded to few queries from the audience. The interactive policy session provided a deeper understanding of the policy priorities, needs and concerns of various stakeholders to be addressed in the proposed policy.  Rath expressed concerns over the deficient level of knowledge among the students, especially in Science and Maths and highlighted the role that ICTs could pla in improving reach and quality of education. Most government schools lack good science, mathematics and technology teachers.  Despite the fact that country has a dedicated satellite for education (EDUSAT) and hardware has been provided in schools, these are grossly under-utilised. here is a need for capacity building of teachers in using ICTs in education. Qual ty educational content and in contextualised format are required for the schools  ICTs could reach education to every village and block in the country.
The Secretary, Education also discussed about involvement of IITs and other institutions in improving the quality of teaching and learning in schools. population to learn better. The faster one learns and more independently they learn the better. Uzbekistan has made computer education mandatory in schools and has issued certifi cations without which one cannot enter jobs. India should learn from such examples, he said. Shakila Shamsu, Joint Advisor, Planning Commission, emphasised on the need to move from teacher to student centric learning, which can be ably supported by ICTs in short time. ICT should be the major factor with teachers just being the facilitators in class. She expressed concern over dearth of good quality e-content in Indian languages. Developing e-content is very important. Though software developers have already started addressing the market needs, governments also need to recognise the importance of content development. Shamsu also felt that there was need to overcome teachers’ resistance to using technologies. Technology phobia faced by teachers should receive immediate attention and computer education for them should be made mandatory and added as part of teachers training, she added. According to Prof. Utpal Malik, Head Computer Division, NCERT, although computer materials for schools are being developed at a fast pace, ICT is still a virtual aspect in class. It has still to become reality. Good hardware or software may not be enough for good education. ICT has to be integrated in the 40 min of classroom curriculum. He said it is time we teach the children to think out of box. It’s like a health drink – stronger, sharper and taller. Project based learning is the best. The need of the hour is to develop a model which is replicable, scalable and suitable for average teachers teaching poor students. At the en  of the session, the expert panelists also responded to few queries from the audience. The interactive policy session provided a deeper understanding of the policy priorities, needs and concerns of various stakeholders to be addressed in the proposed policy,

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