Education has always been the key to realising goals and enhancing the quality of life for millions of people in a developing country like India. Education is important to a new nation's effective growth and development, and India has a significant edge in this field. The country's working-age population is predicted to increase from roughly 64 percent to 69 percent over the next few decades, potentially making India the greatest single positive contributor to the global workforce.
Despite the far-reaching impact of education and training, teachers -- the backbone of the education system -- have been largely underinvested.
Skilled with the power to shape future generations, teachers in India are instrumental in preparing the youth for the unseen jobs of tomorrow. However, a recent UNESCO survey points to an alarming shortage of over one million teachers in schools. Moreover, 1.1 lakh schools in the country are running as single-teacher entities. Therefore, it is more critical than ever to accelerate the employment of teachers, revamp training, and bring back more teachers into the workforce.
Technology is a great resource and enabler in realising this.
Transforming learning and teaching
In the last few decades, technology has revolutionised almost every aspect of life. When the COVID-19 pandemic upended traditional classroom learning, it was the innovation and reach of e-learning that empowered teachers and students to continue despite unprecedented circumstances. While technology is the vehicle that drives better learning for students, digitally empowered teachers are the key, delivering conceptual, contextual, and visual learning to millions of students. By embracing tech-enabled tools, teachers are making learning more effective and engaging, personalised, fun and future-ready.
Not just reach, technology has also enabled us to tap the potential of teachers from across India, accelerating their earning potential and connecting them with students anywhere in the world. This amalgamation of technology and pedagogy with talented teachers is bringing back the golden era of teaching - and we are witnessing this revolution every day. Even as schools begin to partially open up across the country, the limitless possibilities offered by digital learning tools in the last two years will continue to impact how we learn and teach.
In these few years of uncertainties, one thing is certain - the future of education is going to be hybrid. Synchronous and asynchronous formats will co-exist, students will have the choice to pick and choose from a bouquet of subjects and learning styles, have a hyper personalised learning pathway, and much more. In such a scenario, the role of teachers will remain uncontested, further evolving into mentoring and guiding students to become active, lifelong learners.
Bridging the tech deficit
While technology is creating new opportunities in education, there is a pertinent tech deficit in India. However, things are rapidly changing. In 2020, India had over 749 million internet users. This figure is projected to grow to over 1.2 billion by 2040. Moreover, the physical inequities in education continue to pose a greater challenge. Every child, irrespective of location, proficiency and socio-economic conditions, must have an equal opportunity to learn, and having digitally empowered teachers is a vital cog in this wheel. High impact outreach programs such as BYJU’S Education For All are bridging these education gaps in underserved areas through partnerships with NGOs and government agencies. In fact, at BYJU’S we have partnered with 55 organisations across 23 states to continue exploring and leveraging technology to bring about positive changes in education. This is a powerful step in closing the gap between students and quality teachers.
As humans evolve, so does technology. It is with this technology that the conversation has moved from what students learn to how they learn. The emergence and acceptance of new digital learning tools have not only empowered teachers to teach more effectively, but also closed the gap between students and teachers. The student-teacher dynamic is evolving to become multidimensional and effective - creating more opportunities for students to take the driver's seat in their learning journey. In the next decade, as technology evolves, it will pave the way for more edtech players to provide innovative learning solutions, personalised experiences and digitally empowered teachers, at scale.
As teachers shoulder the responsibility of creating leaders of tomorrow and shape the youth that will become the workforce driving India's growth story forward, digital education and tech enabled educators will be the cornerstone of this revolution.
(This is a slightly modified version of an article originally published in Live Mint. The original article can be found at https://www.livemint.com/education/news/national-education-day-digitally-empowered-teachers-can-unlock-india-s-potential-11636599189778.html)