Why investing in Ed-tech is a must for Indian school boards?

Why investing in Ed-tech is a must for Indian school boards?

A tech-savvy nationwith more than 260 million children enrolled in more than a million schools scattered across the country, India has one of the largest K-12 populations in the world.

While access to education has multiplied over the past few years, educational quality still remains poor in different areas and for different segments in the nation. A national survey conducted in 2017 found that fewer than half of Indian students are able to read a textbook designed for students 3 years younger than them.

The survey also suggested thata mere 35 percent of Class V students (10–11 years old) could identify numbers from 10 to 99, while less than 20 percent were able to  perform a simple task like division.

The story has been the same for decades. Indian schools have largely remained the same when it comes to teaching - hardly any innovation and lots of red-tape. That outlook could perhaps change with the work of ed-tech startups and the shifting interest of the students..

With the penetration of internet-based smartphones and even the more commonly accepted Smart Classes, schools could bring equitable quality learning for students across geographies.

Moreover, the country now boasts of quite a lot of startups, all of which are marketing their services that glamorized learning. The question which then could come up in the mind of a sane, observant person is – Where is the bottleneck in the development of education in India?

While the consumption of educational content has rapidly transformed, its implementation in schools and colleges is still nascent. That perhaps could be a lackadaisical perspective of the stake-holders of the education industry in India.

With some educators still debating over the effectiveness and usefulness of ed-tech, India might not have readily adopted education technology but it's heartening to see how a traditional sector like education is using technology as an enabler. Today, some cutting-edge technologies are being used to further enhance this sector, while grabbing the attention of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, corporates and governments.

The latest advancements in the ed-tech sector and the projected growth of the Indian online education market that might touch $1.96 billion by 2021. This concern however is still more focused on tech-driven educational infrastructure – something that Indian school boards like CBSE and ICSE must invest in and also could not implement in several regions in India.

Unlike traditional education systems such as classrooms, private tutelageand unmonitored tests are slowly gaining more popularity and importance as both students and educators embrace what ed-tech startups offer – convenience, personalization, and agility. Then, we have newer concepts, such as MOOCs (massively open online courses) gaining popularity amongst students and working professionals, alike.

The learning, several educationists argue, is something that is amiss in Indian startups. An article published published by FactorDaily talks at length about the lack of focus on actual learning and more on glamorized ed-tech.

India’s first stint with ed-tech by Shantanu Prakash’s Educomp brought tech to the classes while making in-roads into the industry. As the segment grew, the fascination with ed-tech on screens increased. Educomp’s headway into the market brought a revolution in the way schoolchildren learn things, but also laid down the possibilities of development. Similar to Educomp’s advent, NIIT, Everonn and few other companies also looked to revitalize the classroom and not divorce the learning from it.

While a privilege back in 2010, the Smartclass is a widespread phenomenon now. Ed-tech is a notch above the traditional learning methods largely due to its interactive nature, but the conjunction with teacher oriented learning is what could make it sustainable – something that most companies apart from Educomp or even Everonn didn’t understand.

Principal of the MCTM Chidambaram Chettyar School in Chennai, Vijayalakshmi says, “We’ve been conducting ‘Smart Classes’ for the last 6 years for 6-12th standard, and teachers have been trained with the software to use it for main subjects like Maths, Science, History, and Geography.”

She adds, “The teachers are using it extensively in all the classes; and they plan ahead. They go by what they have to relate to using the software and add it to their PowerPoint presentation, if needed. If it is a biology or a math class, everything would be shown in the software while the teacher explains. For a 40-minute class, we use Pearson with IBM.”

While the above stands true for most private schools in urban areas, government schools and private schools in semi-urban and rural areas are still quite far from realizing their ‘Smartclass’ dream. A major factor behind this distance remains that these educational institutions can’t afford to buy the setup and get it installed.

This makes it imperative for secondary education boards like CBSE and ICSE to step in and invest in smart learning infrastructure. This wouldn’t only help the students to learn more, it would also turn out to be of great assistance to the teachers to explain critical concepts in the classroom.

Investing in ed-tech doesn’t mean cutting the umbilical cord to textbooks and classroom lectures; it simply aims at raising the standards of school education in India, which is often placed under scrutiny for promoting rote learning and outdated curriculum.




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