Potential Of Edtech In Rural India

How EdTech is bringing online learning to rural India

The Indian educational landscape has seen dynamic growth due to technological advancement in the last decade. The COVID-19 pandemic just resulted in an acceleration of earlier EdTech attempts to provide students with an engaging and comprehensive learning experience through digital platforms. The rural part of the country traditionally lacked access to quality education due to a paucity of infrastructures like unavailability of electricity and internet access but it is transforming now. Competitive exams in India comprise Entrance exams for admissions and exams to get various government jobs and the EdTech sector has grown immensely in the last 6-7 years. In this Covid situation, it is growing even faster due to the closure of offline coaching institutes. If we talk about the cities: tier 1, tier 2 and even tier 3 cities, the aspirants for competitive exams are able to access good quality classes/study materials, practise questions without spending heavy amount and thus are getting benefitted immensely.  However, student’s rural areas are not getting much benefit and the reasons are more than one. As per Annual Status of Education Report – 2017, “The rural youth, when it comes to solving basic math problem or answering simple questions is almost 10 years behind their age. 78 per cent of all rural 14-18 year-olds – whether enrolled students or not – do some agricultural work whether for wages or on their own land.”Most of the competitive exams start after plus 2 and most of the rural students are not able to reach there. Some of them who manage to pass plus 2 or graduate, even they are not confident enough to sit in the competitive exams due to the low-quality education they get.

Edtech platforms are slowly, but steadily making their way to rural India and creating newer opportunities. The collaboration with government and non-government bodies and institutions played a huge role in the adoption of EdTech in rural India. EdTech companies are launching initiatives aimed at catering to the less privileged sections of the student population, especially those enrolled at government and affordable private schools in both rural areas and underdeveloped urban areas. Some EdTech players, for instance, are betting big on conversational AI bots to bridge the gap between human and computer language, thereby making communication between students, teachers, and parents easier natural, and more seamless. 

How EdTech bringing online learning to Rural India:

  1. Public-private partnerships - This is one of the most effective ways to provide high-quality content in the form of classes, study material, tests etc. to rural students. With governments long term vision and planning, govt. school networks and Edtech companies' collaboration can do wonders. Edtech companies can provide all the classes and study materials and the government should work for the necessary infrastructure and the teachers in these rural schools can be trained and can act as the facilitators. It will also ensure that the rural students are also getting the same classes from the same level of quality teachers which an urban student is getting and rural students will also be provided with a level playing field in terms of the quality of education.
  2. Leverage the power of Television and radio: - These can be powerful tools to transform education in remote and impoverished regions. The Indian government has already introduced various free digital e-learning platforms like Diksha, e Pathshala, Swayam, Swayam Prabha, etc. Swayam Prabha, a group of 32 DTH channels is devoted to telecasting courses for school education, higher education as well as vocational training. However, we need to first take stock of the situation in these remote areas, we must understand their present level of education, understanding and then accordingly design the content and the educational videos for them. At the same time, some programmes on the radio and television for the parents also should be aired so that they can understand the value of education and then they can encourage and motivate their children to study. So anything done in isolation is not going to help, what needs to be aired, how and when to be done, all these things should be decided to keep all the aspects of rural India in mind.
  3. Bet big on regional languages: - There is a lot of scopes as the students will be able to understand what is being taught to them. Once they understand the subject, they will start enjoying the lessons which will lead to fewer cases of dropouts and class repetitions. All of us will agree that one can understand things more clearly and comfortably if it is taught in the language we are comfortable with. So I think Edtech companies can play a crucial role here. 

In addition to it, emerging technologies like AI bots can play a vital role in terms of support, personalized feedback, performance analysis, instant help with technology, etc. which will enhance student engagement. However, human touch should not be missing. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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