Digital education is a way to reach the unreached – those who live in remote villages and mountain areas – and so the digital university can be a game changer.
The student crisis in Ukraine is a wake-up call to strengthen our educational infrastructure. “We need to develop a large number of high-quality institutes in all fields,” said Anil D Sahasrabudhe, President of AICTE. In an interview with Vikram Chaudhary of FE, he adds that the digital university will be a breakthrough in increasing the gross enrollment rate from 27% to 50%. fragments:
Why is the ‘digital university’ called a game changer?
The NEP 2020 focuses on increasing the gross enrollment percentage from 27% to 50%. It can’t just be done by physical universities – upgrades that require massive funding and infrastructure upgrade. Digital education is a way to reach the unreached – those who live in remote villages and mountain areas – and so the digital university can be a game changer.
It will be a boon to students from low-income families in remote areas who cannot move to the city for a good education as they cannot afford additional living expenses other than high costs. Even if there is a good university in every district, it may be more than 100 km away from a poor village youth in that district, who may not be able to afford transportation costs or living expenses.
Under BharatNet, internet penetration is deepening and digital is perhaps the best thing that has happened to education. I think in a few years every corner of the country will have an internet connection.
But such students need cheap devices to study online. Several years ago we had the Aakash tablet…
We need a tablet that is connected to the internet and has a lot of preloaded content and governments (both state and central) need to figure out how to deliver such devices on a large scale.
Will the digital university in the 21st century play a similar role as the IGNOU in the 20th century?
Yes, his role can be termed as an extension of the work IGNOU was doing before. IGNOU sent study materials to the students’ homes and to clear their doubts that students needed to visit “study centers”, where the resources used to be the faculty, library, etc. As part of the digital university, students can solve their problems by sitting at home – library and faculty are all online.
While world-class foreign universities are allowed to operate in the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (free from domestic regulation), will they come? Can we learn from the failures or successes of global examples such as the Education City in Doha?
The kind of working environment we can provide to foreign universities in GIFT City will be important. Also, the cost of living in India is lower than in developed countries, so I wouldn’t be surprised if students from other countries look at foreign university campuses in GIFT to study. The best part is that in GIFT there are no regulatory bottlenecks. It will be a model that can later be replicated in other places based on the success in GIFT City.
Will it be similar to how educational institutions originated near Sonepat in Haryana?
Despite all the regulations, the universities are doing so well in that area. If universities don’t get stuck in certain regulations that keep slowing down certain processes, they can perform even better.
The cabinet is expanding the ‘One Class, One TV channel’ under PM e-Vidya from 12 to 200 TV channels. Are children known to learn from TV? Isn’t this a stopgap solution to reach those areas where there is no internet connection?
It will take a while before the internet is everywhere, but TV is already here. These channels do not give lessons once, but repeat these lessons. I have seen that when the subject is made interesting by innovative teaching methods, students are drawn to it. Soaps are popular because they generate excitement among viewers – what’s going to happen next! – and if we can do something similar with knowledge sessions or classes, students would look forward to this.
Although the AICTE does not regulate medical education, do you think the student crisis in Ukraine is a wake-up call to not only strengthen our medical education infrastructure, but also technically? What steps can be taken for this?
Yes indeed. In fact, the wake-up call has been going on for over a decade, with the number of outgoing students in the range of 4-5 lakh and incoming foreign students in India around 45,000 (10:1 ratio). That is why Study in India was launched. The pandemic has also affected many. So there have been warning signs for quite some time now. Ukraine has been an even more serious challenge. We need to develop a large number of high-quality institutes in all fields.