Nine years ago, the government primary school in Paritewadi village, Solapur district, was located in a dilapidated building, sandwiched between a cattle shed and a store room. There was no electricity and hardly any students. The innovative use of ICTs has brought more children to school, got parents involved with education, and taken students on new journeys of learning across the world. The school’s teacher writes about his innovations with technology in education.
Teachers are at the heart of the Digital Equalizer programme, which trains educators in the effective use of technology as a pedagogic tool, helping them bring creativity, diversity and real-life examples into the school curriculum through technology. The decade-old programme, spread over 15 states, has worked with over 89,000 teachers in government schools. DE’s internal assessment indicates that teachers in DE schools use technology in the classroom 2.5 times as much as non-DE schools.
The foot soldiers of technology in education—including policymakers and bureaucrats—believe that the introduction of technology by itself will transform education. At the other end of the spectrum are teachers who are resistant to change. This article draws on the author’s field experiences in Chhattisgarh, Odisha and other states to discuss the enablers and barriers to implementing a successful ICT at School programme on the ground.
The use of computers and internet for children is mediated more by the socioeconomic status of the family than the type of school they go to or the medium of instruction. This study of eight schools in Tamil Nadu points to sharp differences in the way children from elite, middle-income and disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds perceive and use computers and the internet. The study illustrates how socioeconomic backgrounds influence digital opportunities and disparities.
Limited infrastructure, inequitable access to digital resources, and poor utilisation of digital resources in the education sector cause the digital exclusion of children in India. With a computer-student ratio of just 1:89 in India, initiatives such as Zero Connect–Wireless Agariyas employ vans equipped with antennae, solar panels and digital equipment to take internet connectivity and tablets to students of the Rann Shalas in the salt desert.
The buzz about the great Indian digital revolution notwithstanding, a November 2017 survey in rural Karnataka indicates that while 49% of adults own a mobile phone, just 11% of these are smart phones. Twenty-five percent of children have access to smart phones, and of them, only 18% use the smart phone as an educational tool. The study offers a reality check on the access and use of smart phones in rural households, and the potential for use of smart phones in education at present.