In a few minutes, the lights go out and kids walk out of a robotics lab, rather out of place in a government school battling for funds to build toilets. But this lab has changed the lives of the children. A year ago they couldn’t handle calculators, today they win robotics competitions, an enviable achievement even for posh private schools.
There’s an advantage when you bring interesting things to children.They tend to work better, who quit a well-paying engineering job last year to teach and mentor the children in the school. They no longer use rote to solve problems, they can use maths to calculate the distance robots need to travel, or the time taken for a command to be executed.Their latest achievement is making the two robots in the lab exchange commands using Bluetooth.
The Indian education sector is quickly adapting to technology . More than 400 educational technology firms were launched in the last decade. That said, most of these initiatives smart class rooms, online teaching programmes, teacher evaluation, inschool learning, sharing through tablets or laptops and personalized educational content -are thriving mainly in the private sector or the more autonomous higher education institutes like the IITs and IIMs.
Those in govt schools may not tote smartphones and iPads, but a few non-profits are trying to bridge the digital learning gap
As India’s education system treks up the technology ladder, it will be stories like Viveknagar that will matter more. “Technological advance ments have certainly enabled a lot of things inconceivable earlier. Today , our experience shows, learning and teaching can become more democratic, taking teachers to students, or allowing the latter to pick the former,“ says Vamsi Krishna, CEO & co-founder of Vedantu, a live online tutoring platform which uses technology to bring together teachers and students.
But he also speaks of the need for a government policy framework to be expedited to make the same available for those who cannot afford these, such as government schools.
However, in the absence of such a policy, private and non-government initiatives are trying to extend these technologies to government schools.US-based free online tutorial provider, Salman Khan’s eponymous academy for one, intends to tailor tutorials to the NCERT curriculum in all major Indian languages.
Robotics lab is funded by Akshara Foundation, which has also tied up with the government to teach maths to primary schools. Bengalurubased international school, Inventures Academy , recently brought the Khan Academy module to its campus and opened it up to students of government schools in the hope that it could enable them to learn independently .
In countries like the US, the government took the lead and put in place infrastructure key for such initiatives.There is enough scope for India to do the same, except that there may be a lack of will. A lot of projects get announced but no body seems to see if these have been im plemented. Even educational insti tutes in tier-II and III cities and villages can benefit from this technology .
Educomp, considered a pioneer in the field, has also had some progress in getting involved with government schools. But several hurdles have emerged such as poor internet penetration and low internet speeds, besides the lack of infrastructure.
If these are not fixed, the great Indian classroom divide won’t just be about economics but about tech as well.
Source: Times of India 06 Dec’2015