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Budget 2023-24: Importance of incentivising technology adoption in schools

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Budget 2023-24: Importance of incentivising technology adoption in schools

Many schools find it difficult to keep up with direction and pace of change owing to structural challenges. Government grants and subsidies can help make technology more accessible to schools and students

RCM Reddy and Devika Rae Chandra Last Updated:February 03, 2023 20:01:53 IST Budget 2023-24: Importance of incentivising technology adoption in schools

Representational Image. News18

Education is undergoing change as the globe adopts a tech-first mindset. The integration of technology in the classroom can transform pedagogy in India. It can help with teaching delivery, enhance the learning experience, and provide access to content through online resources, virtual classrooms, and interactive learning tools.

Despite the advantages, many schools find it difficult to keep up with the direction and pace of change owing to structural challenges. Projectors, smartboards, connected gadgets, customised learning apps, AR/VR, and other technologies are all rapidly evolving. Due to high costs, slow adoption, and a lack of training, the Indian education system cannot keep up. Schools that face challenges, will require financial and policy support to implement new technologies that will help them achieve their academic goals.

According to the Annual Status of Education Report 2022 (ASER 2022), students’ reading ability has dropped to pre-2012 levels, and their arithmetic ability has dropped to pre-2014 levels, reversing years of progress made by the country. According to the most recent data from the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE 2021–2022), only 24.4 percent of all government schools have internet access, and 37.7 percent have computers. Furthermore, only about 10 percent of all schools in India have working computers for educational purposes.

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Crippling cost of tech

The cost of technology is one of the primary reasons for this. Government grants and subsidies can help make technology more accessible to schools and students. Schools often have limited budgets and may lack the resources to purchase cutting-edge technology and equipment, such as interactive panels, projectors, televisions, smartboards, tablets, and more. Additionally, many low-income schools may lack the infrastructure to support advanced technology.

Policy intervention needed for teacher training

Another area where government policy intervention is required is to ensure continuous teacher training. Budget allocations for teachers’ training fell from Rs 250 crore in 2021–22 to Rs 127 crore in 2022–23. A push in the Union Budget 2023–24 for teachers’ professional development and a focus on digital pedagogy will have a ripple effect on improving the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom and helping to bring equity to education in India. The government support can also include refresher training, resources, and support for teachers to develop lesson plans and move towards learner-centric teaching models.

Provide tech access to all

The government incentives are needed to ensure technology’s effective and appropriate use. While technology can be a valuable tool for education, schools must use it to support learning and teaching goals—improving student attendance, engagement, retention, and assessment outcomes, and improving teachers’ efficiency. These policies represent a paradigm shift in education, concentrating on providing analytical, holistic, and multidisciplinary education rather than rote learning, which has been the norm so far. The role of technology is vital to easing this transition, allowing it to take over mundane tasks from the teacher and improving time-on-task in the classroom with the provision of interactive multimedia and multisensory content in various languages aligned to the curriculum.

The adoption of various technology policies can help bridge the digital divide. Today, the Digital India Mission and BharatNet are continuously increasing internet penetration in Indian villages and cities in order to encourage smartphone ownership and use for education. Students from low-income households or who live in rural areas may not have enough access to the internet or devices at home, which may create a disadvantage for them when exposed to technology in the classroom.

Keeping this in mind, the schools must ensure that all the students have enough access to technology and are trained in digital literacy to benefit from educational opportunities. Giving a monetary incentive for developing holistic digital classrooms in government schools will ensure that every single student participates in the digital revolution.

In conclusion, technology has the potential to transform the teaching and learning experience. However, around 60 percent of government schools today still require proper digital infrastructure. The schools need investments that will help them bridge the digital divide, reduce the cost burden, train teachers, and ensure technology application in the teaching process. The upcoming Union Budget of 2023-2024 should propose a focused augmentation of the digital infrastructure and help in creating an enabling environment for school EdTech to develop. Unless this is done, the imbalance between government schools and their students and private schools, which can invest in technology, will increase, keeping aside all the efforts of the past two decades.

The writer is the CEO & MD, Schoolnet (@SchoolnetIndia). He tweets @RCMReddy1. Devika Rae Chandra is Assistant Manager, Office of Strategy, Schoolnet. Views are personal. 

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