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The Gap in Indian Education System and How Can Technology Help?

By Aditi Avasthi , CEO and Founder, embibe.com | Wednesday, 07 Sep 2016, 05:25 IST

Education is considered to be a fundamental human right. As per Teach for India statistics, "4 percent of our children never start school. 58 percent don't complete primary schools. And 90 percent don't complete school". These numbers are shocking from almost any standpoint. The Indian Government passed the Right to Education Legislation in 2009 at a time when close to 8 million children were out of school. For those who do attend school, the problems are no less. Let's first understand the various gaps in the education system before assessing how technology can help solve these problems. 

Infrastructure
Lack of disabled friendly schools, clean and adequate drinking water, separate toilets for girls and boys and playgrounds, lack of smart classrooms that can provide interactive and high quality learning at a level playing field across the country.

Quality of Teachers
Access to quality teachers is not a problem localized to rural areas only. Even in urban areas the poor quality of teachers has given rise to the coaching industry.

Affordable and Accessible Education
There is a massive deficit of access to high-quality education both at the primary & high school level. The cost of educating one of the world's greatest populations has been increasing at a steady pace.

Impact on Learning
The biggest gap is the impact on quality of learning outcomes. Even after the massive effort put in by students, parents and teachers the pass rate and improvement in performance of students are at an all time low. For instance, 38.07 percent of 8th standard students could not count numbers from 1 to 99 in Maharashtra as per a recent survey.

Students pay $1200 per year on average to crack entrance exams in India like the IIT-JEE. Despite this investment of time and money, only 5 percent of the 1.4 million applicants this year scored greater than 30 percent in the exam. These are alarming numbers.

The education sector has been in a dire need for rethinking the way things are functioning. The answer to this lies in leveraging technology to solve some of the challenges that seemed insurmountable. However, it is important for entrepreneurs and teachers to understand how to leverage the power of technology. 

Let us take a look at the same barriers discussed above and see how technology is making a difference in the education sector.

Infrastructure
Classroom-based technologies have improved the classroom experience by introducing audio-visual material and multimedia content, which has led to increasing engagement. The classrooms are now more lively and interactive. The Government is also emphasizing on e-learning to be introduced in schools around the country.

Quality of Teachers
It is almost a no-brainer that digital education is a norm of the future. Technology is a powerful tool to aid and assist teachers in improving their teaching methods and using data to learn new insights about each student taking an examination or learning a concept. Traditionally in a one to one interaction a teacher moulds his teaching process continuously to adapt to the learners needs. This is however not possible for a large number of students. In India, the teacher-student ratios are skewed and only a handful of students benefit from the limited personalization in big class sizes. 

Data collected through performance tracking will help strengthen the education system, as it will directly benefit all stakeholders involved. Students will get better feedback, as will teachers so they can adapt accordingly. 

Affordable and Accessible Education
Technology is making education at every level more affordable by providing courses and content for free or at very reasonable costs. With an increase in Internet penetration the number of Internet users in rural areas will touch 210 million by 2018, aiding India's Internet user base to cross 500 million by 2018. Making the internet available at through high-speed and low-cost devices will make education accessible and affordable to the masses. 

The biggest beneficiaries of this easy access to academic learning and data have been students from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities who no longer have to rely on institutes that are in the vicinity. With the advent of this digitization drive, education is no longer limited to the four walls of the classroom. An interactive platform ensures that a student can grasp, share, understand, discuss and practice much in the same way as he/she would in a real-time study class. 

Impact on Learning
Education is not a one size fits all approach. The real impact of education technology has to be measured in terms of the impact on learning on an individual. It is important to adapt technology into measuring and assessing student performance and providing students with actionable feedback on how to improve.

About the Author: Aditi Avasthi
Aditi Avasthi, more popularly known as 'Chief Embiber' is the founder and CEO of Indiavidual learning a Mumbai based ed-tech start up. An engineer herself, Aditi has worked with some major corporations in India like SIEMENS and TCS before moving to the prestigious Booth School of Business in Chicago for her MBA. Post her MBA, she went on to gain experience across industries and sectors ranging from marketing, and product innovation to mobile commerce.

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