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Technology driven content must for rural kids, say experts

Proper training for teachers and technology-driven content, specifically in the schools in the rural areas can be the key to talent development in India, industry experts said on Thursday at the VCCircle Education Investment Summit 2015.

The panellists also felt that along with introducing quality teaching methodologies, the salaries of the teachers, who have been the victims of the lackadaisical attitude of both the state and central governments, should be increased.

“We cannot get ready-made trained talent. We have to make an investment in training teachers,” said Umesh Malhotra, co-founder and chief executive, Hippocampus Learning Centres.

The panellists also felt that B Ed training has made 70 per cent of the 6 million teachers in India ‘administrators’ rather than leaders who can train children to become leaders.

They stressed that unless government and the other stakeholders come forward, the future of 210 million children studying in 1.6 million schools is at stake.

The summit was held in Gurgaon and was attended by over 200 delegates.

The panellists agreed education needs to leverage technology for teaching students in Tier-II and Tier-III cities in India.

“Today kids are exposed to all kinds of content. So if you teach them without technology in schools, they won't be interested. So education needs to leverage technology,” said Sameer Sampat, executive director, India School Leadership Institute.

Raj Yarlagadda, MD at People Combine Educational Initiatives Ltd, said investment is needed to create proper infrastructure to make technology work in an atmosphere where kids don’t have access to laptops and tablets.

“Technology as a tool to explain content is just a complement, and not a substitute. It can never replace teachers. What works is technology driven content,” Yarlagadda said. He said laptops distributed under government’s educational programmes are generally not used due to lack of knowledge about device’s usage and sold back to vendors.

While the other panel discussions at the day-long conference ranged from elementary, vocational and K-12 education systems in India, the overall theme was quality control.

The last panel of the event was dedicated to edutech sector where panellists discussed how the emergence of technology-based education services and products has gained sizeable traction with a number of VC investors showing interest.

However, they pointed out that policy challenges and lack of a conducive environment for operation are major roadblocks, preventing edutech firms from coming into the mainstream.

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