Edtech can revolutionise India's public school systems

Pankaj Agarwal, CEO & Founder, Taghive, says digital revolution in the public education system will prepare children from disadvantaged backgrounds for a world that is beyond free and compulsory education.
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The advent of technology has placed an extra familiar need for it to be leveraged in every sector - be it the social world, the world of fashion, the media industry, healthcare industry, and more recently, yet most importantly, the world of education.

Having an internet connection is no longer a thing of privilege but a necessity. Children as young as three can operate a mobile device or a tablet with such ease and convenience that they are fully prepared for school even before they actually need to be.

What is it that parents are doing then? They are using digital tools to prepare their children for academic excellence. This is one of the most primary forms in which edtech is being utilised without entering the mainstream system of education.

However, it is important to note that it is also a deeply disparate form since it highlights the lacunae that exists between the haves and the have nots. So to say, children from underprivileged backgrounds have to fight more layered battles to level with their rich counterparts. That is a totally undemocratic experience for every child in the Indian education system.

Another rather compelling issue to take cognizance of is that this new age of education technology is still catering to very traditional problems - every parent wants their child to grow up to be a doctor, engineer or an IAS officer. This desire compels them to invest heavily in digital learning platforms that guarantee exam preparedness for students to achieve these goals and hence the essence of easing student burden that ed-tech guarantees is only one that is carefully masked.

This is also the reason why most companies in the edtech sector have centered themselves to cater to these needs without recognising the need to tackle more systemic issues like student attrition due to learning lags, as seen in government schools.

This is also the reason why India ranks 104th amongst 149 countries of the world, in the Prosperity Index in Education. Is this concerning? Very much so!

What edtech can do to transform Indian public schools

Education is an extremely important experience and one that needs to constantly evolve with time. To begin with, every child needs to be given the opportunity to keep up with their times. Complacency with regard to tech integration in public schools is no longer an option since the world demands it.

If this complacency continues to fester, the public education system is only going to set a more concrete platform for discrimination of opportunity against those children who have to go through it.

Digital revolution in the public education system will prepare children from disadvantaged backgrounds for a world that is beyond the four walls of their free and compulsory education.

It will help them gradually recover from their learning lags and instill a sense of confidence that allows them to dream beyond what is designed to be their realities. Afterall, there is no point in improving enrolment rates if there is no upgrade in the teaching/learning process.

Tech integration in public schools will also yield a more positive return for teachers who have to work in the system. A lot of their instructional time can be spent remediating instead of teaching. Teachers will also get a chance to upgrade their own skills, making them more prepared to deal with dynamic learning situations.

Let us not forget that digitisation can also help teachers access a huge reserve of knowledge that they can impart to their students. All these aforementioned experiences still remain a huge untapped dream since teachers in the public system are still battling issues that generations before them have had to deal with.

It is hence a growing requirement that we treat education technology in the government schools as one that is a natural and evolutionary process. So much more can be accomplished with technology in classrooms than without it.

Having said that, technology is an expensive component and one that needs a lot of additional infrastructure. To encourage more edtech companies to enter the social innovation field, the government must make some promising investments towards those that wish to do so.

It is not beneficial for the majority of students that make up the learning population of the country if organisations that cater to fads continue to dominate the edtech sector.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)