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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

Right to Quality Education- Right Answer Technology

Manish Upadhyay & Amitava Maitra
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Manish Upadhyay & Amitava Maitra
There has been way too much hype about RTE (Right to Education) than a substantive debate. The fact that it has taken so long to recognize is more of a reason for shame than hype. The state of education as it stands now is woeful. It has mostly taken monumental efforts from NGOs like “Pratham” to actually quantify the problem and produce hard evidence to this effect. The government though in the know has made ineffective effort. But tragically enough there has been complete tacit admission of guilt within the system. The most tragic and perverse proof of complicity however comes from the systems of assessments and examinations. To take an example: a student who scores even 100 percent in his 12th class exams conducted by CBSE has to take another set of exams for a career in the medical profession – conducted by once again – CBSE through the PMT. The same government body not only acknowledges the redundancy of the 12th class exam but has to create a different one to measure knowledge and aptitude in Physics, Chemistry and Biology – the very subjects tested for in the 12th.

The RTE if implemented in its current form with the current mindset will only further the malaise. Rather than quality education for all it will only ensure at best mediocre education for all and at worst bad quality education on a far larger scale! For any education system to have excellence there has to be quality in all the facets – ranging from the curriculum, pedagogy, books, infrastructure, trained and skilled teachers, robust students performance assessment processes and overall monitoring and evaluation of educational programs.

For the delivery of quality education on a large scale there has to be an extensive injection of technology as an enabler of change. Technology and technological systems have to aid the design, development, implementation and also the administration and governance of education. For example the use of ICT can vastly accelerate the training of teachers in a relatively low amount of time and in a cheaper way. Low cost ICT solutions in the classroom can significantly improve the quality of teaching and technology systems can address issues such as teacher attendance and student performance monitoring. Overall, the integration of technology will ensure that there is reliable data within the system to help in meaningful long term monitoring and evaluation.

There’s a popular misconception that only computers can be the sole harbingers of technology despite the presence of more easily available and relatively less costly technologies such as radio, television and the emergence of new low cost devices such as tablets and mobile phones which can use existing telecom networks or the internet as a backbone for the delivery of quality education. Some of the notable examples are:
Same Language Subtitling (SLS) by “Planetread” is simply the idea of subtitling the lyrics of existing film songs (or music videos) on TV, in the ‘same’ language that they are sung in. SLS is delivering regular reading practice to 150 million weak-readers in India.

Kikajou Projector –a solar powered projector designed by “Design that matters”. The projector improves and expands access to education by transforming night-time learning environments in rural, non-electrified settings. The pilots have been run for night-time Literacy classes, in Mali, Africa. English is Fun- a Radio based program run by “Bihar State Govt.” Seven million students attending 65,000 primary schools in all the 38 districts of the state have access to a 122-episode English learning programme through Radio sets. The state government has given Rs. 1,000 ($25) to every primary school to purchase a radio set.

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