End of days for 'chalk and talk' ways of teaching. With the government pushing for the use of Information and Communication Technology at secondary school level, resource limitations in education system will soon be a thing of the past.
What is your take on digital inclusion at the secondary education level?
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has to be integrated into academic curriculum and, presently, the government is thinking of including ICT at secondary school level. It is being targeted to cover about 1,20,000 secondary schools which are in the government sector. But the point remains that unless we bring in ICT into the school curriculum, we can't achieve the advantage of better teachinglearning and skill empowerment of the learners. At the school level, ICT can be a subject and can also be integrated with subjects like mathematics, science and different languages.
The digital divide in Indian education sector is often said to be a result of economic divide. How can we overcome this challenge?
There is a digital divide within the nation that exists between information haves and information have-nots. However, there is a general perception that an economically resourceful educational institution is able to integrate ICT in classroom teaching or into the education mainstream. With availability of funds, these institutions are in a position to leverage more of those ICT resources. But it is not necessarily so. The question is how to scale it up. Today, we have a lot of lowcost devices, computers that can be optimised in a manner that do not invite much investment. Most schools in our country still use 'chalk and talk' method in classrooms. But student will be empowered better if the teacher uses a computer which has multi point access for the children. Most Latin American countries that are economically poor are going for similar modes of teaching. This is a question of applying technology in a more innovative manner where we optimise it in a way that the costs are reduced. There is a little bit of investment that needs to be done at the institution level also. But funds are not really an issue in government schools, as the government has a policy of enabling schools with ICT.
How can technology be a catalyst for growth of students and organisations?
Technology is a great enabler. It improves the quality of any educational outcome. It also empowers an individual immensely, because in today's world we are living in an information age. To have information at fingertip is not possible unless we harness technology. In that sense, technology is a great empowering tool for teachers, students, educational institutions and organisations, irrespective of the kind of enterprise they are involved in. Technology cuts across activities it caters to. The more technology is used, the higher are the returns, thereby one is able to invest more into an enterprise.
What are the key innovations in education that the government is stressing on?
Considering that we are in an ICT driven society, we have the National Mission in Education through ICT in higher education domain. The government has felt that educational institutions that are in the higher education domain, i.e. colleges and universities, must be provided a high speed broadband facility so that there is an exchange of knowledge and information at the base level. This takes place in two ways, one is connecting these institutions through Internet and the other is connecting the institutions within themselves for sharing of knowledge. Next, the focus is on digitalising the content and making it available in an interactive mode and open up a platform for e-learning. The 11th plan document has talked of wi-fi campuses. The idea is to move towards an ideal by way of overcoming all resource limitations. The government also welcomes private sector in its participation to improve the education sector, but there cannot be a set timeline for achieving this aim. The idea is to achieve it as early as possible. At this point in time, we should be glad that we are thinking and moving in the right direction.