“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” – Bill Gates
The issue of tech-savvy teachers has risen to enormous proportions as technology is revolutionizing the entire socio-economic landscape. The most critical discussion is the future of jobs and the way India should handle the looming change.
Interestingly, there is no rulebook to follow as the speed of this tech-transition is unprecedented in the history of mankind and none of the countries in the world are geared up for this. It also emerges that the transition can be most effectively handled by the youth who are more willing to learn, unlearn and take risks to move ahead.
We need instructors who are able to teach the kids to experiment, to handle Big Data, process mechanical information, work with machines and still retain the human instincts. This is even more relevant for India as it has a huge untrained cohort of the young population.
The edtech market currently aims mostly at the students, helping them with visual content, taking mock tests, mobile and video-based learnings and even peer learning. A very important part of the teaching ecosystem, the teacher, has been ignored. In comparison to a robot or an algorithm, the teachers still remain the best judge of the capabilities of a student and technology needs to balance these two aspects.
India is already reeling under a huge teacher shortage. According to a 2015 UNESCO Institute of Statistics report, India needs close to 370K new teachers to meet its demand for primary education. About 3 Mn recruitments will be required for the same by 2030. The situation in higher education is even more striking, with 30-50% vacancies in tier I and tier II higher education institutions.
A three-pronged strategy of enabling efficiency in delivery, better lesson planning, ensuring accountability and streamlined assessments by involving teachers. The advancement of IT needs to revolutionize the classrooms through systemic integration and enable teachers rather than threaten to replace them.
Efficiency in addressing a larger number of students: The edtech community needs to manifest its focus in making teachers more comfortable with technological innovations so that less number of teachers can handle a greater number of students easily. As there is a 1 million teacher shortage in India and a cohort of students in a classroom consist of different IQs, technology needs to help the teachers inefficient management and engagement of children.