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Digital education gets a boost

UNESCO report 86% government schools in India do not have internet access

November 6, 2023

A mere 53% of private unaided and 44% of private aided schools in India are connected to the internet, compared with only 14% of government schools according to a recent report released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Global Education Monitoring Report 2023 also reported that globally, 40% of primary, 50% of lower secondary and 65% of upper secondary schools are connected to the internet.

The study highlights various aspects such as access to technology, penetration of ed-tech platforms, teacher qualifications and differences in government regulations for technology integration in education.

“Internet access, a vital enabler of economic, social and cultural rights, is also unequal. In 2022, two in three people globally used the internet. In late 2021, 55% of the world’s population had mobile broadband access.

In low- and middle-income countries, 16% less women than men used mobile internet in 2021. An estimated 3.2 billion people do not use mobile internet services despite being covered by a mobile broadband network,” an excerpt from the report reads.

Even as it indicates a strong divide between private and government schools in the country, several government-introduced initiatives have been acknowledged.

For instance, while citing that the Digital technology has dramatically increased access to teaching and learning resources, examples cited were that of the National Academic Digital Library of Ethiopia and National Digital Library of India.

About the need for evidence driving technology integration, the report said, “A review in the United Kingdom found that only 7% of education technology companies had conducted randomized controlled trials, 12% had used third-party certification and 18% had engaged in academic studies. An online survey of teachers and administrators in 17 US states showed that only 11% requested peer-reviewed evidence prior to adopting education technology.

“Recommendations influence purchase decisions, yet ratings can be manipulated through fake reviews disseminated on social media. Few governments try to fill the evidence gap, so demand has grown for independent reviews. Edtech Tulna, a partnership between a private think tank and a public university in India, offers quality standards, an evaluation toolkit and publicly available expert reviews.”

It also acknowledged that the government in India had warned stakeholders about the ills of the edtech sector. In India, the government alerted families about the hidden costs of free online content. Other risks relate to data use and protection, privacy, interoperability and lock-in effects, whereby students and teachers are compelled to use specific software or platforms. Google, Apple and Microsoft produce education platforms tied to particular hardware and operating systems.” 

Also read: How parents’ internet addiction can fuel their children’s & what to do about it

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