Democratising Education through Technology

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Sonya HoojaSonya Hooja, Director & Co-founder, Imarticus Learning, shares her views with Elets News Network (ENN) on the notion of access and quality education for all, role of technology in transforming education and more

According to you, does reservation in higher education is defeating the very purpose of imparting the best possible education to meritorious candidates. If yes, how?

I think everyone would agree that our system is not completely meritorious. But that goes beyond just quotas and includes the massive capitalisation fees that parents have to pay.

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The Mandal Commission’s heart was in the right place. Centuries of pervasive and entrenched caste system affected a significant portion of India’s population. It was detrimental to their advancement while offering enormous opportunities to others. However, the question lingers: are we ready for a truly meritorious system? Probably not, but we need to redraw the lines underlying our affirmative action and use socio-economic indicators rather than religious, caste or class based ones. This way we can give truly give a chance to deprived sections to gain quality higher education.

In the light of Supreme Court ruling, what would be the impact of doing away with all forms of reservation in institutions of higher education?

Supreme Court is not asking to do away with reservation but to rethink the logic behind it and address the issue of social backwardness rather than class or caste. Theoretically, doing away with all quotas in higher education should create a completely meritorious eco-system but that would also require us to rein in the corruption and ensure that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are receiving quality primary and secondary education.

‘Access to All’ & ‘Quality of Education’ are the major fault lines in the education system in India. What role can technology play in bridging these fault lines?

Technology is often referred to as a great equalizer. It has the potential to bridge gaps and homogenise experiences. Inaccessibility and compromised quality of education are unmistakable fault lines that deter students from accepting online education. Today’s generation of students and consumers are growing up in a digital world and according to a survey by Live Mint, 93 per cent students in India access the internet everyday.

A key driver for democratising education is the advent of MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses. These are short-term certification courses endorsed by top universities and are available to students for absolutely no cost.

Being into the technology-enabled learning space, how your organisation can contribute/is contributing in bridging the education faultlines?

Imarticus Learning provides online programmes in the investment banking and data analytics space. These are conducted via a state-of-the-art learning management system that has the capability of hosting content in the form of HD quality videos, interactive quizzes and case studies. Our experiential learning methodology ensures extremely high engagement rates and student satisfaction.

In addition to our paid courses, we also host a series of free workshops on our Learning Management System. Students can undertake these workshops from our website for absolutely no cost. Another development that has the potential of transforming online education is the advent of Adaptive Learning techniques. This allows consumers to customise their learning experience to their strengths and areas of development.

How technological transformations and innovative learning tools can change the education landscape in India in the coming decade?

Imarticus Learning was traditionally a classroom-training institute and recently forayed into the online space. While instructor-led classes allow students to interact and engage with their teachers in real-time, the future of education truly lies in a barrier-free platform where students are able to replicate their classroom experience online.

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