TECH TALK: The Best of 2006: 9. Education in India

For India, it is becoming more and more apparent that the single biggest challenge is ensuring good education for tens of millions of people. Atanu Dey outlined his views on what is needed to transform education in India:

[What] is the big idea?
Provide an end-to-end managed service to educational institutions which will make education more effective, efficient, and relevant.
The service will be to provide all educational content (rich, multi-media, massively hyperlinked across domains) and tools (learning, teaching, testing, evaluation, teacher training, administration, reporting), and the technology platform to host the content locally and to access it.

Why would educational institutions use the service?
The service will use technology intensively. Like all appropriately used technology, it will reduce the costs for existing and new educational institutions.
Information and communications technology (ICT) characteristically demonstrates economies of scale. In other words, ICT solutions have high fixed costs and low marginal costs. That is, if the market for the ICT based solution is large, the average cost (and hence the price to the consumer) is very low. Think of the Intel inside processor in your PC or laptop.
It will be costly to develop the ICT-based solution which will be at the core of educational institutions but given that there are hundreds of thousands of schools in India, the average costs can be brought down low enough to make quality education a reality for tens of millions of Indians.

Isnt everyone and his brother talking about ICT and education? In what way is your idea different?
In a number of ways. Firstly, it is not PC-based. It does not call for hundreds of PCs in schools, nor laptops for kids. It provides the technology platform on the school premises and everyone accesses the content on site.
Therefore, secondly, it does not involve accessing content remotely across a broadband connection to a server located out there in the cloud. This is not a distance-education plan.
Thirdly, it does not create content; it aggregates existing content and tools. Indeed all components of the system are taken off the shelf and assembled into a general purpose and therefore flexible solution which can be used across a broad spectrum of educational institutions.

Tomorrow: Three for 2007

TECH TALK The Best of 2006+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.