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Technology adoption in education may get special allocation

The budget allocations could be for online courses and strengthening tech infrastructure in colleges and universities (HT)Premium
The budget allocations could be for online courses and strengthening tech infrastructure in colleges and universities (HT)

The budget allocations could be for online courses and programmes and strengthening technology infrastructure in colleges and universities, as well as for dedicated education television channels and hardware integration in government schools, two government officials said

The Union Budget 2021-22 is likely to make a special allocation for larger technology adoption in education amid the huge shift the education delivery and content creation space is witnessing after the pandemic disrupted the sector completely.

The budget allocations could be for online courses and programmes and strengthening technology infrastructure in colleges and universities, as well as for dedicated education television channels and hardware integration in government schools, two government officials said on the condition of anonymity.

“The school education department alone has projected a need for almost 56,000 crore in front of the 15th Finance Commission for creating ICT facilities in government school during 2021-22 and 2025-26. The higher education department too has projected an amount of 63,000 core for the five-year period for making devices such as laptop, tablets, mobiles, and television sets available to students besides creating online courses. And 2021-22 being the first year of this period, budget 21-22 may allocate a portion of it this time," said one of the two officials cited above.

“Since the covid-19 lockdown began in March and the National Education Policy (NEP) announced in July, education has only taken one route, online. From top universities to government schools, all have adopted technology. However, there is a huge need to ramp up the facilities. In budget, you may see technology adoption getting a fair attention," the second government official said.

Notwithstanding the huge push, only one-third of India’s school children are pursuing online education and a smaller cohort of this 32.5% are doing live online classes, according to the Annual Status of Education Report published in October 2020.

The report underlined how the digital divide is still wide in the school sector and just 11% of all students enrolled in both private and government schools were using live online classes, while another 21.5% were using videos or recorded classes.

If you take government schools alone, then only 8.1% enrolled children were using online classes across the country. These numbers have brought to the fore that the governments both at the Centre and in the states need to invest more in improving the digital infrastructure for improving the life and learning of students.

“Some good content has been created online but there is not enough evidence to show they are reaching the target audience efficiently. Budget 2021 is likely to correct some of these anomalies by allocating dedicated funds and streamlining the policy," the second official said.

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