Simply putting ICT in the classroom is not enough for ICT4E (information and communication technology for education). Even the best policies and sophisticated technologies will fail to reach their full potential if teachers, administrators, and students don’t know how to get the best out of them.
Capacity Building for ICT in Education, an infoDev-commissioned paper by Price Waterhouse Coopers India, says most South Asian nations need to complement their basic ICT4E infrastructure needs, such as computers, connectivity, and physical resources, with investment in mass-based learning networks, content support and development initiatives.
The third essay accompanying the Survey of ICTs for Education in India & South Asia, Capacity Building for ICT in Education states that the focus in education needs to shift from the teacher to the learner. Integrating technology into education certainly helps switch to a more student-centered pedagogy. However, encouraging digital literacy and providing computers are necessary but insufficient conditions for success.
The infoDev / PWC India report identifies the main challenges to ICT4E capacity-building in South Asia:
-Increase in the use of ICT in education has not occurred at the same pace as the increase in overall ICT infrastructure, and the overall increase in ICT availability has not yet reached a stage of providing access to most people in South Asia
-Absence of integration and interaction across the South Asian region restricts sharing of information resources and creates duplication of efforts, resulting in ineffective use of ICT
-Absence of trained teachers of high quality and caliber
-Restrictive access to ICT facilities results in a lack of ICT enablement
-Absence of authentic and adequate data on access and use hampers policymakers
-Narrowly focused interventions limit the overall gain from ICT and miss the broader vision and goals of the sector
-Continued need for a minimal level of physical and complementary infrastructure
-Low use of ICTs’ potential
The basic requirements for access to ICT4E are infrastructure, financial resources, and legal frameworks. Notwithstanding these challenges, South Asia also has significant geographic, cultural, and economic resources that help capacity-building.
This thematic essay is one of five that accompanies the Survey of ICTs for Education in India & South Asia. By gathering and comparing on-the-ground information from eight countries, illustrating successes and challenges, and drawing out key lessons learned, this survey helps decision-makers to plan, coordinate, implement and evaluate successful ICT4E initiatives in India, South Asia and beyond.
Stay tuned for the two remaining thematic essays on ICT in primary and secondary education, and policy coherence to be released on the Survey website in the coming months!