Next Education, a technology-driven education enterprise, provides ICT-based products in the K-12 segment. Veena Raizada, Director (Academics), Next Education, speaks about infusing IT into education in today’s world…
The educational space is being revolutionised with new technologies, and Gujarat is at the forefront of this revolution. The traditional chalk and blackboard model is no longer in vogue; we are gravitating towards interactive white boards and digital content for imparting education.
According to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan policy of the Union Government, schools are adopting technology in a big way. Next Education wholeheartedly supports this initiative. The strong IT infrastructure in the state will go a long way in making quality education available to every student.
Gujarat to Leapfrog
The policy initiatives on IT taken by the Government of Gujarat are quite encouraging. The telecom and the IT sectors in the state are well developed, and the state’s literacy rate is almost 70 percent. The Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-Informatics (BISAG) has satellite communication facilities with a dedicated bandwidth.
These are good signs. Gujarat can be a leader in adopting IT in education. The IT network in the state is strong. The transport network is good. Investment in the IT sector is very high. The state is ripe for having a much deeper tryst with digital education.
There are several challenges in the adoption of ICT in the education sector. Among them are low literacy levels, unwillingness to adopt technology, monitoring and evaluation, lack of guidelines, and institutional fragmentation. Even those deemed literate may not be competent enough to receive IT education. Educational standards would need to be raised before citizens can become digitally literate.
Steps need to be taken to overcome the unwillingness for adopting new technology, so that the digital literacy levels among students and teachers can be increased. Teachers are wary of technology. They need to be made aware that IT training will help them rather than pose as a threat to their jobs.
Hardware penetration in schools in quite high, but with no auditing or monitoring system in place, there is no way for us to evaluate the effectiveness of this hardware. The most common issue faced by schools is related to identification of quality content, but this issue can be resolved by providing clear guidelines.
There is a need to bring about some harmonisation and co-ordination in the aspects of curriculum, infrastructure, content, policy and implementation. The framework for these things is developed by several bodies at several levels. India also has linguistic diversity and income disparity. The digital divide in the country is so acute that it becomes difficult for policy-makers to frame universal policies to be implemented.
Reaching the Last Mile
Digital solutions on any media that can be operated through the simplest of technological applications will make the mission possible.
The myriad challenges in the path of digital learning can definitely be overcome through dedicated approach. The concept of “School on Wheels” can succeed with all coming together for running it successfully.
On eINDIA 2011
Gujarat is poised for a big leap into the world of digital learning. An event like eINDIA 2011 becomes very relevant in this context, as it is a platform for discussions on the best ways of infusing IT into the educational curriculum.