The National Coalition on the Education Emergency (NCEE) has asked the government of Andhra Pradesh to review its collaboration with BYJU’s and have a team of experts assess the same.
The National Coalition on the Education Emergency is a group of individuals and organisations that have come together to work on issues relating to the impact of the pandemic on school education in India.
The coalition has asked the state to adopt a ‘Do No Harm’ principle to children studying in government schools. “In its capacity of representing the people’s interests, the Government should do its due diligence vis-à-vis private vendors to ensure that it is protecting the interests of children, ensuring true learning, and getting value for money,” the statement reads.
Expressing concerns, NCCE called for the constitution of a team of academicians, financial experts who can assess the cost-benefit from the program as well as its opportunity costs etc to assess the pros and cons of the collaboration. “Share the MoU in the public domain immediately. The team must study the curriculum and pedagogic approaches in BYJU’s products. The report should then be put on public domain and debated. In the absence of such clear shared understanding of the cost-benefits of the program, the implementation may not only not provide any claimed benefits but also harm the interests of the children, and education processes and public education system in the state.”
They also expressed concerns over violation of privacy of children and data breach. They warned that despite these apps being “free of cost”, benefits could be derived implicitly.
“True value is not from the price of the app, but from the volumes of data that are generated which can be used to refine/perfect the algorithms, make profiles of students and their families, and can be lent, sold, re-sold to other entities, including for targeted advertising and exploitation of vulnerable people,” they said.
The state government recently announced procurement of devices for the same at an exorbitant cost. Experts have asked the government to invest in improvement of existing infrastructure and school facilities to avoid the ills of online education.
“Months of exposure to digital devices has created addiction in children. Parents in many states have strongly demanded a program of digital de-addiction. Teachers too have warned that student learning habits such as being attentive, remembering and responding to instructions and interactions, and desire for learning have been negatively impacted due to use of digital devices,” the coalition has warned.
Other concerns expressed:
- Stigmatization based on learning levels
- Rote learning
- Data breach and data harvesting by BYJUS
- Digital addiction