Strategic Technology Partnerships Key To India’s New Education Policy Success

The pandemic might just accelerate the leap into revolutionary new education models to close the achievement gap and the digital divide, caused by the sudden onslaught of the digital education wave.

With the advent of the much-awaited National Education Policy 2020, India’s education system seems to have its foot on the pedal of several reforms in education. Due to be fully implemented by 2035, the 15-year plan proposes to touch and reform every aspect of education from early learning to revitalizing higher education research. 

Agile, fast, and scalable - EdTech trends had long fueled global education even before the COVID-19 rendered every other learning mode practically unusable.

The pandemic might just accelerate the leap into revolutionary new education models to close the achievement gap and the digital divide, caused by the sudden onslaught of the digital education wave.  

The education ministry is leveraging public-private partnerships with silicon valley giants to leapfrog into the next education revolution. Here are four core initiatives that the education department is front-ending to bring the NEP 2020 vision to fruition:

Integrate Artificial Intelligence Into Active Classroom Learning 

A few weeks ago, a heartening video made the rounds on Whatsapp, of a classroom in a remote rural location in Kerala using Augmented Reality to conduct a class on animals to a group of preschool children, as a testimony to how our ecosystem is ever-ready to adapt. Technologies like Augmented Reality, fueled by artificial intelligence, are all set to entirely change learning and teaching experiences by moving into immersive, free-flowing, multisensory 3D worlds, and mainstream curriculum boards in India are certainly watching this trend.  

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the national level board of education in India for public and private schools, has partnered with IBM to integrate Artificial intelligence in the high-school curriculum for the current academic year. 

Developed in collaboration with IBM, Australia’s Macquarie University, and Indian implementation partners – Learning Links Foundation and 1M1B, the AI curriculum structures the course framework around and robust assessment methods for teachers, and problem-based learning outcomes for students. 

Envisioned as a part of CBSE’s Social Empowerment through Work Education and Action (SEWA) program, the new curriculum will be introduced in nearly 200 schools across 13 states in India. 

Jumpstart Teacher Training For Online Delivery

We might be nearing the end of the traditional classroom, even if there is a semblance of normalcy after COVID-19 because the scaling capacity of online education is simply mindblowing. Is it any surprise that one of the world’s largest silicon valley companies sees a wise investment in this area?

The Central Board of Secondary Education had cemented a partnership with Google as part of its $10 billion investment into India’s teachers. One of the top goals of Google’s initiative is ramping up education, and this partnership aims to support over 1 million teachers to improve their online education delivery across nearly 22000 schools in India. 

The company is also spearheading vernacular language education in India. 

Build Digital Life Skills 

Building 21st-century skills are among the top goals for learning outcomes, and now digital life skills have clambered to the top of the list.  Responding to the spike in screen time for kids, the Central Board of Secondary Education has partnered with Facebook to launch a curriculum for digital safety and online well-being of kids, focusing on preparing kids for the future of work in globally seamless and diverse working communities.  Teachers are an integral part of this initiative. 

Strengthen Virtual Classes 

In addition to the efforts of the Union education ministry, several state governments are rapidly scaling up efforts to close the achievement gap.  States like Kerala have revitalized the medium of television for learning, while Telangana and Delhi are building dedicated e-resources for online learning. Indian multinationals like Reliance have released the first augmented reality-enabled glasses Jio Glass in India to answer the demand surge for remote communications using video and augmented reality. 

In September 2004, India announced a ground-breaking education initiative with former president Abdul Kalam inaugurating the first phase of EduSat, a collaborative project of the Union Ministry of human resource development with ISRO, IGNOU, and several State departments. EduSat was the mega-initiative that would help schools all over the country, through distant classroom education from school level to higher education with satellite-based two-way communication. 

16 years on, EduSat has practically vanished from public consciousness, making us wonder:

Would EduSat have been more successful had it been driven by extreme necessity, like the COVID-19 is now driving online education? 

At the risk of sounding cliched, the pandemic could indeed be the silver lining that presents us with the inescapable necessity to make the NEP a grand success, turning India into the global knowledge superpower it could genuinely be.

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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