IT for Change
Computer learning seen as a stand-alone activity
Computer learning is not integratedinto the regular learning processes of the school student. The teachers of the school are not sufficiently involved with the computer learning processes and largely treat the entireprogram as something external to theschool system. Teachers themselvesmostly do not acquire basic computerliteracy, though there are computersin their own schools. They aretherefore neither motivated nor ableto integrate possibilities of computeraided education in their teaching.
ICT Curriculum not linked to regular curriculum
With private vendors (who are mostly attuned to business contexts and usesof computers) driving the contentand the processes, students learnapplications that are often of limiteduse to them in their own contexts(office applications are themselvesundoubtedly useful, but they requirelittle time to learn, whereby it may notbe justified to make these the majorcomponent of the ICT curriculum).
Limited competencies of staff provided by the vendor
The outsourced staff is also typically poorly paid
, which affects theprofile of people who apply forthese positions. They are treated asoutsiders by the school, which candemotivate them greatly. As a result,in most schools, the real possibilitiesof learning and experimenting withICTs are quite limited, both for thestudents and the teachers.
Dependencies on external vendors for core educational processes
A long term dependency gets builton private vendors for software,educational processes, content etc which, as ICTs become more andmore central to the educationalsystem, can cripple the latter’sindependence as well as its broadpublic and community orientations. Itshould be remembered that in India,there are a number of high-levelpublic institutions that meticulously work on every aspect of content/curriculum, processes etc of thepublic education system. Their rolemay largely get superseded by large-scale private sector dependenciesthat will get built through theoutsourcing model. Many eminenteducationists in India have beenhighly critical of this process of privatising core educational processesof curriculum/content design andteacher professional development
An Integrated Model of ICTs in School Education
The Kerala state’s
model which integrates the ICT componentfrom the start into the mainstreamteaching-learning processes, appearsto have been successful in building agood platform for leveraging thebest opportunities that ICTs may have to offer in furthering variouseducational objectives. Some key elements of the
modelthat are seen as responsible for itsrelative success are briefly describedbelow.
Complete integration withexisting structures and processes
program is fully integrated into the existing educational processes. It relies on theelaborate teacher training structures within the public education system inIndia to train the school teachers onusing ICTs, both in terms of computer learning and computeraided learning. There are a set of master trainers who first acquiresufficient expertise in using computers. Since these trainers arethemselves teacher educators, whohave also taught in schools, they aremuch more likely to bring up thebest possibilities of using computersfor learning different subjects. Someexamples include using specificeducational software that is availablefor different topics, say electricalcircuits (physics), or circles(geometry), or simply through accessto the Internet for information ondifferent areas etc. The procurement of hardware, andits installation and maintenance, isalso managed within the system. Thisallows significant cost advantagesarising due to great quantities of hardware purchased. The programhas created
‘mobile hardware clinic’
teams, which regularly visit schoolsfor inspection, checking hardwareand doing most of the requiredmaintenance and repair work. Apolicy of cannibalising computersthat cannot be repaired has twobenefits; it substantially lowers costsof maintenance while ensuring higher uptime. Teachers are trainedto install software and also doroutine software upgrades. Theprogram disproves a commonly heldbelief that school teachers in India’spublic education system are notcapable of, and/or are unlikely to beinterested in, engaging with ICTsbeyond being simple users.
High investment in teacher capacity building
The trainers provide intensivetraining to teachers as a part of theregular teacher training, plannedevery year. The training iscomprehensive in its coverage; every teacher receives an initial ten day training in the first year, and 2-5 daysevery following year, which refreshesand builds on the learnings of theprevious years. While the initial