Prema Basargekar, Chandan Sanjayraj Singhavi
Journal of Information Technology Education: Discussion Cases  •  Volume 4  •  2015  •  pp. 03
In the scorching and sultry heat of a Mumbai summer Prem Yadav, the Director of Pratham Info Tech Foundation (referred to as the Foundation), Mumbai, India and his team were busy teaching basic computer skills to students attending a school for children raised in poor households. These children were stumbling at every stage. Classrooms were very small and congested. Electricity supply was erratic. Software products were available only in English and were not compatible with the hardware. Schools and teachers were unenthusiastic if not wary of the additional burden put on them. This was the situation in spite of the fact that for four years since 1998, Prem and his team had tried everything to integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in 54 Municipal Corporation schools, (schools run by the civic body that governs the city) started mainly for unprivileged children. The team enjoyed moderate success, but the overall impact was small.
Uses of ICT in education were perceived to be an add-on support, rather than an effective toolbox to bring consistency and equality in providing quality education and empowerment to underprivileged children. Information technology had led to decisive and sweeping changes in other fields like healthcare, e-governance, logistics, and manufacturing. Yet so far ICT had very limited success in the field of education especially at pre-primary and secondary school levels (i.e., from standard 1st to 8th). On the one hand, India was emerging as a knowledge based economy by exporting IT and IT based services to the world, and, on the other hand, most of the population belonging to the low income group did not have any access to learn basic knowledge and skills related to IT. Prem was convinced that this digital gap needed to be closed as early as possible; otherwise India would risk leaving a large section of the population far behind. He knew that it was not the technology per se, but the implementation of the technology at the grass roots level that was more important.
case study, discussion case, ICT in school education, India
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