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Digital Education 2017-03-18

Is education system in tier II and III cities prepared to go digital?

Rural areas, mainly tier III cities, are growing at stagnant pace, which has been a major point for the investors in digital education of India

By Feature Writer
Is education system in tier II and III cities prepared to go digital?

In India, Digital Education has undergone rapid expansion in the last few years and will continue to do so. Although, India improved from mere 12% literacy at the time of independence to 74% as per 2011 census, it still lags behind the world average of 84%. People from all walks of life have now started understanding the need to digitalise the education sector of India, whether it is tier I, II or III cities. Due to urbanisation, digitised education in Tier 1 cities has expanded faster as compared to other cities.

India has become the second largest market for e-learning after the US. Presently, India’s higher education system is the largest in the world, enrolling over 70 million students in less than two decades. The education sector is estimated at US$ 2-3 billion in 2016, and is predicted to touch US$ 40 billion by the end of this year.

Rural areas, mainly tier III cities, are growing at stagnant pace, which has been a major point for the investors in digital education of India. Major population of about 68.8% live in rural India and most of them do not get quality education.

Some major reasons behind this lack of quality education availability in rural areas are:-

  • Poor Facilities: People do not have proper facilities like electricity, water or infrastructure.
  • Infrastructure and Technology: There is a lack of infrastructural facilities and no new technological upgrade facilities, which at present are available in urban cities.
  • Poverty - Poverty is the major factor that affects the population to avail quality education. Lack of economic factors affects the interest of investors to invest in Quality Education in Tier III cities.
  • Awareness: People in rural areas lack knowledge regarding the use of digital education, which stacks a great obstacle in getting quality education.
  • Unavailability of Teachers: There is a constant lackof teachers in schools in rural areas to provide quality education or to spread awareness regarding quality education. Most of the teachers do not possess the skills to use digital education.

Considering these factors, it is essential to use digital educational tools which provide quality and relevant education at cheaper rates. The Government of India has taken charge and aims to improve digital education through various initiatives and policies stated as per The Union Budget of 2017.

Government Initiatives

  • The union budget 2017-18 has pledged an outlay of Rs 79,685,95 cr for the education sector for financial year 2017-18, which is a 9.9% rise than the last year budget.
  • According to Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Law and Justice and Information Technology, over 10 million people in rural India are likely to gain education on e-payments through the newly launched initiative, digi Dhan Abhiyan by the Government of India.
  • The Union Cabinet has approved ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ to make 60 million rural households digitally literate by March, 2019.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved opening of one Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) in each of the 62 uncovered districts with an outlay of Rs 2,871 crore, which is expected to benefit over 35,000 students in rural areas.
  • The Government of India has signed an agreement with World Bank for International Development Association (IDA) credit of US$ 300 million especially of disadvantaged groups in selected Higher Education Institutions in Madhya Pradesh.

Major Investments

  • The total amount of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) inflow into the education sector in India stood at US$ 1,383.62 million from April 2000 to December 2016, according to data released by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
  • Byju’s, an education technology start-up which provide education to everyone digitally, has raised US$ 50 million from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative..
  • Intel Corporation, a US based multinational technology company, has partnered with Extramarks Education, a digital learning provider, to start private schools in India with the investment of US$40 billion and extend computing technologies to students and schools in the whole country.
  • EdCast, a technology education start-up based in Silicon Valley, plans to invest up to US$ 50 million in education based technology and tie-up with around 500 educational institutions to build digital content and curriculum for educational institutions in India.

Conclusion

Rural India has ample amount of opportunities to grow in terms of digitised education. The Government of India as well as various investors are grasping the opportunities to help India grow its Digitised Education sector.Education sector has seen a host of reforms and improved financial outlays in recent years that could possibly transform the country into a knowledge haven.

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