ICT Integration in Schools Slow : Anita Karwal, Primary Education, Gujarat, India

PPP is the only way out for introducing, implementing and sustaining use of technology in school education

How can the quality of education delivery be enhanced through ICT integration in school education?

As far as primary education is concerned, the scale of operation at the state level is so huge that it is near impossible to ensure 100% results in any intervention. With ICT one is sure of the reach to the farthest corner and also the quality being relayed out from a central communication unit.

What role do you foresee for ICT in education? What are the reasons for India still lagging behind in ICT integration?

As the world is shrinking and future employments will need some background in it, ICT will have to become an integral part of school education. Ours is a huge country in terms of population to be serviced in schools. In Gujarat itself, we have over 60 lakh children studying in about 32,000 primary schools across the state. Population is not really an issue in most of the western part of the world, while here we are talking about a single state! Therefore, we need to comprehend the reality that we are slow on the ICT uptake in school education due to sheer numbers. 

Please mention the initiatives taken by the Gujarat Education Department in enhancing the quality of state education.

Some of the major initiatives undertaken by the Gujarat government are:

  • Five thousand schools covered in Phase 1 of the computerisation programme of upper primary schools (Classes 5,6 and 7). Phase 2 of the programme has been tendered and rest of the upper primary schools will be covered by mid 2009;
  • The facility of BISAG (Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geomatics) extensively used for relaying educational inputs and for teacher training;
  • Syllabus related teaching and learning software prepared and used in upper primary schools;
  • We are in the process of developing an education mamagement and information system (EMIS) for the state;
  • Software being developed for refurbishing knowledge acquired during the academic year at the end. 

Should public private partnerships be built for enhancing proper usage of technology in school education?

PPP in my view is the only way out for introducing, implementing and sustaining use of technology in school education. The precious resources of the government cannot be utilised for sustaining every new development in technology.

Please specify the challenges faced in integration of ICT in education? Also, according to you what are the solutions to these challenges?

Some of the major challenges are: Procurement; Capacity limitations; Scale; Remoteness; Language issues; Quickly changing technology; Useless or ad-hoc software; Connectivity; and Lack of proper operating systems.

And possible solutions to these are: Guidelines at the national level on ICT integration in schools; Standardising the  procurements; Exploring various connectivity options; Constant monitoring of expected outcomes under CAL programme; Constant review of guidelines to ensure availability of latest technology; Using ICT for enabling individual child tracking, monitoring drop outs, etc under universalisation of education; and Funding under SSA of computer labs, service oriented CAL programme.

Lastly, what would be your message for the stakeholders in the education sector regarding building up an ICT policy on education in India?

I do not believe in piecemeal policies in education. After all we are dealing with the lives of our future. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan has shown us the way as an all encompassing policy. My personal view is that there is no need for a separate ICT policy in school education. It could simply form a part of the SSA guidelines and subjected to periodic revision.

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