Those working in education technology in India today do so with one specific goal in mind: closing the education gap between the poorest and the richest students in the country. According to the EdTechIndia blog, researchers working out of Hyderabad are designing a suite of technological tools that would make it possible to create a private school whose tuition would be affordable enough to serve as a real alternative to under-funded and chronically under-served Indian state schools.
The paper Education Technology in India: Designing Ed-Tech for Affordable Public Schools seeks to understand how technology can better be harnessed in order to make it most useful in bringing down the price yet not the quality of education in India. Affordable Private Schools – or APS as they're known throughout the paper – serve an important role in the country, especially in parts where they are the only option for quality education for miles around.
The researchers looked both at technology and its applications currently in practice in operating APS and what further technological improvements could be made to help the schools meet reach their goals.
By their nature, APS deal with issues that fully government-funded schools do not. While they charge tuition of anywhere between $5 and $14 per month, they are frequently operating in areas where even such low fees are a hardship for local students. In addition, low tuition means that teachers that work for an APS typically earn up to 40% less than their colleagues at state-supported schools — something that drives high turnover.
Despite the fact that these schools typically operate on a shoe-string, a full 69% of them – according to the report – have computer labs on site and nearly 60% use some kind of technology in the classroom to improve lesson delivery. The bad news is that while the schools obviously set aside funding to equip themselves and are excited about the potential that digital technology can bring to their classrooms, they remain in the dark about the best way to use these tools to improve academic outcomes.
The purposes for the tech in these schools caries widely. It can be anywhere from a computer lab directly in the classroom to simply machines used by administrators to keep the organization up and running. Some classrooms are equipped to take advantage of tools like interactive white boards while the others use the traditional visual and audio projectors.