Mapping India's educational evolution with schools of tomorrow - Hindustan Times
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Mapping India's educational evolution with schools of tomorrow

By, New Delhi
Jan 18, 2024 05:52 PM IST

2023 was thus a year of consolidation and reinvention for the sector, with a sharp focus on unit economics, profitability and reducing cash burn.

In 2023, India’s Edtech and school Edtech sectors continued to move forward from pandemic-driven growth. Specialised products and services geared to meet the changing needs of learners across age groups, locations and formats have helped drive this shift.

NEP lays special emphasis on vocational education. We will see increased focus in this area over the next few years. (Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times)
NEP lays special emphasis on vocational education. We will see increased focus in this area over the next few years. (Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times)

Traditionally digital-first firms adopted hybrid and offline strategies, while offline providers ramped up online offerings. 2023 was thus a year of consolidation and reinvention for the sector, with a sharp focus on unit economics, profitability and reducing cash burn. Unfortunately, the vast majority of private schools in India continued to remain mostly on the fringes of this innovation, despite visionary policy initiatives.

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While the 2023 NCF for School Education highlighted the importance of multimodal pedagogy (a combination of digital, print and teaching-learning materials), assessments and balance between self-paced individual learning and group activities, policy implementation at scale demands a robust PPP framework including multi-stakeholder involvement; and long-term human, financial and technological resource allocation.

I believe 2024 will be a year of continued innovation in Education, albeit in pockets of transformation.

School Edtech

Every day, in 6 million classrooms across India, teachers continue to deliver rote learning even today. The typical normal curve splits each class into three groups of students - ‘toppers’, ‘average’ and ‘below average’.

This is a gross disservice to the spirit of enquiry and deep critical thinking that has always emanated from India. However, my firm belief is that at least a few thousand schools will break free from this tradition in 2024.

These schools of tomorrow will prepare their students for life, not just for exams. They will opt for multi-modal teaching-learning to break the normal curve - by helping every student cover gaps in learning. These schools will adopt technology to help their teachers teach better; and will improve learning outcomes for every student, irrespective of location or current academic abilities.

The March of Technology

Technology, especially AI, will play a key role in driving lasting innovation in School Edtech in India. It will revolutionise the quality and accessibility of education for every child across the country.

Language acquisition, personalised assessments and remediation, personalised learning paths, digital teacher assistants - a lot of these will spring forth in the next few years.

Socio-emotional Learning

With rising cases of depression and suicides; and the rise of social media driven anxiety, socio-emotional learning will become very important for schools and colleges.

Vocational Learning

NEP lays special emphasis on vocational education. We will see increased focus in this area over the next few years. The rise of ‘green schools’ - India has ambitious targets for renewable energy, with plans to reach 450 GW by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2070.

With ~1.5 million schools across India, rooftop solar systems in school buildings represent a great opportunity to meet our country’s COP 28 goal of reducing emissions by 45 percent before 2030. If all schools in India adopt solar, then we can add 15 GW of solar energy, which is 20% of the current installed base!

Lifelong Learning

The old paradigm of learning ending at university and then a permanent job is as good as dead. AI will pose new challenges. One will need to continue to learn and upgrade their skills.

Engineers have to learn new technical skills; Marketers have to learn new channels; and Sales personnel will have to learn psychology. Managers have to learn to become leaders. Leaders have to learn to become self-aware. Learning will never stop. In 2024, people will spend more time on the internet learning, with much of this free.

To sum it up, Education continues to be extremely important for India to realise its Amrit Kaal vision of becoming a developed nation by 2047. With educational foundations for every child being established in school, it will be up to every parent and every school to choose multimodal learning over rote learning.

(Authored by Sumeet Mehta, CEO and Co-Founder of LEAD Group. Views are personal)

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