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Role Of Edtech Companies In Supporting Quality Of Education In Remote Areas Partnerships with government and non-government organizations are opening new possibilities for the future adoption of edtech in small towns and townships

By Divya Lal

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The Indian educational sector has undergone dynamic growth due to technological advancement in the recent decade. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated prior edtech endeavours providing students with an engaging and thorough learning experience via digital platforms.

However, the movement has been slower in rural areas primarily due to the lack of essential infrastructure. New-age education requires appropriate schools, electricity and decent Internet connectivity to help bridge the rural-urban education divide. Additionally, there is a scarcity of educators with the necessary or up-to-date skills willing to work in the hinterland. Not to mention hindrances such as gender inequality or the concerns of the safety of the girl child that obstruct access to quality education, something that is a child's right.

Then there is the most practical challenge when one educator carries the burden of attending to 100-plus children. According to a recent report by Niti Aayog, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh have an over 40 per cent teacher deficit.

Having said all this, we owe our gratitude to the mobile phone revolution, affordable smart gadgets and accessible data plans. With its advent slowly but steadily, edtech platforms have been able to make a way into the rural pockets of India, but the potential is beyond our expectations.

Partnerships with government and non-government organizations are opening new possibilities for the future adoption of edtech in small towns and townships. In both rural and underdeveloped metropolitan regions, edtech businesses are proving their efforts of supporting the underprivileged among the student population, particularly those enrolled in government and affordable private schools. Several edtech companies are taking serious steps towards leveraging conversational AI bots to bridge the gap between human and computer language.

Technology can help each student differently, based on her individual needs; many edtech apps can track a student's performance and behavior throughout the course and make necessary adjustments and recommendations. Educators can save time via these platforms to assess and support their students, which are most useful owing to the disproportionate ratio of teachers to students.

The National Education Policy also aims to considerably improve the quality of education available in tier II and tier III cities. The budget allocation for education in is a massive INR 93,224.31 crore, a massive jump of INR 8,100 crore over the previous year. Additionally, the government is also offering training through the DIKSHA platform for up-skilling teaching staff.

While English is the accepted language of communication across the country, regional languages provide exceptional conceptual clarity to aid learning outside the metros. Apart from offering remote learning access, virtual classrooms conducted in a regional language can be as realistic as an actual classroom, assisting children in learning while being overseen by parents who can be equally active in the learning process.

As "necessity is the mother of invention", the level of difficulties in the rural sector is propelling notable edtech advances to improve the situation. Through conversational, omnichannel, and multilingual AI bots coupled with WhatsApp, Telegram and smart televisions, rural students and teachers can get access to access high-quality edtech products.

Affordable and accessible e-learning modes can and will break down digital learning barriers in India's rural areas.

All parties have made significant efforts in improving access to digital services and e-learning; leveraging existing infrastructure might make digital inclusion easier. If teachers have the necessary support, they will be better placed to transition towards technology rather quickly. To accelerate change, local and national governments must collaborate with the IT and edtech industries.

Furthermore, emerging technologies are poised to play a significant role in enhancing student engagement by providing support, tailored feedback, performance analysis, and rapid technology help, among other things. While, human touch, at the same time, should not be overlooked, we must accept that edtech has successfully revolutionized the rural educational scenario scene and generated opportunities for rural people so far with a tremendous potential to do far better.

Divya Lal

Founder and managing director, Fliplearn

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