The second topic I want to talk about is the role of technology in education.
In India, somewhere we got our focus wrong. In schools, it is all about setting up computer labs. It’s about getting those ten computers in there – a mix of thin clients, desktops with some connectivity. Content is always given an after-thought, and I’ve seen this happen in states, multiple states, time and again. If one state does it, then other states just replicate the tender and repeat it all over. Content is an afterthought. It is getting the hardware infrastructure in place.
The same stupidity is being replicated in the higher education system, where we are now looking at devices, all sorts of devices out there. And we’ll talk about that in a minute. So thousands of crores are being spent, there’s no assessment, of whether this really makes a difference in education. I mean all of us got educated without computers!
This spend on free devices helps to win elections, and perhaps its good pocket money for the value chain, but a different perspective needs to be understood.
Technology has always had a role in education. In the history of the use of technology in education, technological advance in printing was the most radical and innovative. Books were the first of the information and communications technology. They were the means to store, disseminate and access information. The modern innovation – the internet – which helps production, distribution and consumption of information on a large scale. The role information plays in education has to be recognised. What we know, our knowledge, is a function of what information we internalise. We need access to information together with the ability to comprehend that information. Education requires that information is available for internalisation and conversion into knowledge.