A survey of students from selected schools in Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh, was carried out recently to assess their preparedness towards taking ICT related professions. Involving 18 government and private schools, the survey reveals that students from state-run schools lacked ICT exposure in comparison to their peers from private schools
Availability of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure in schools and its integration with teaching and learning processes, is coming under greater focus as the country looks towards addressing the change of emerging as a knowledge economy.
In this context, this article discusses a recent survey done in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, covering 360 students and 78 teachers in 18 schools, to empirically establish the status of ICT related infrastructure and the level of exposure or engagement among students impacts their chances of accessing ICT related careers and thus ultimately contributing to the pool of manpower equipped with ICT skills.
The survey took into consideration both public and private schools. Despite growing role of the private sector, state-run educational institutions will continue to cater to the needs of millions of students across the country. This clearly indicates that government schools will have to not only develop ICT facilities but also find effective means for passing it on to students as skills for the future roles.
For preparing a globally competitive manpower, the National Institute of Technology, with support from World Bank promoted Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP), conducts training programmes for skilled, unskilled and unemployed youths. It also promotes awareness on the vast potential of ICT to improve their quality of life.
To have an increasing impact, the NIT has also been targetting school children. In May 2008, it organised several programmes, including Olympiads and workshops, for children from various schools in Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh. The survey, with session 2008-09 as the reference period, first also part of it. The main objective was to investigate the nature and extent of ICT provisions in the schooling sector. More specifically, by mapping the ICT resources presently being used in the schools, manner in which they are being used and the organisational environment, a picture emerged of ICTs in the school. The performance of the current system and issues important to schools were also evaluated and noted.
The survey was conducted under the 50th Community Service Programme, organised by NIT Hamirpur, under the auspices of TEQIP. The data was collected on the following points:
- Strength of the schools
- ICT infrastructure of the schools
- Internet/Intranet connection in schools
- Internet/Intranet usage in schools
- Software usage in schools
- Teacher awareness of ICT
- Use of ICT in teaching activities
- Student awareness of ICT
- Use of ICT in learning activities
The survey focused on the following broad questions:
- How can one use ICT to accelerate progress towards
- education for all and throughout life?
- How can ICT bring about a better balance between equity and excellence in education?
- How can ICT help reconcile universality and local specificity of knowledge?
- How can education prepare individuals and society to benefit from ICT that increasingly permeates all realms of life?
The objectives of the survey were to evaluate:
- The quality of teaching and learning using ICT.
- The effect that ICT is having on standards of the student's work and on how it assists them to access the curriculum.
- The quality of planning for the development of ICT across the school.
- The quality of resources available to support the development of the student's ICT competence.
The project was intended to pin point the factors that motivate teachers to use ICT and also sustain its use. The aim of the project was to use the factors identified to inform the professional development requirements of practising teachers to enable them to use ICT appropriately in their teaching.
Mode of Survey
To assess the preparedness of schools in the area of ICT, questionnaires were prepared for the categories of School Management, Computer Teacher, Teacher, and Students.
Questionnaires for School Management
The questionnaire included 25 questions, mostly related to ICT infrastructure provided by the school. Location of the school was ascertained to compare rural and urban schools. Some questions werere related to the funding agency of the school to compare government, private and trust funded schools. Questions were also asked about the strength of the school in terms of students, teachers and computers. The main emphasis was given on ICT infrastructure of the school as questions were asked about the number of computers, current state of computers, Internet facility, bandwidth and local area network (LAN). Software used and purchased gave the idea of the software strength and awareness of the school. Annual expenses on hardware and software showed the financial activeness of the school towards computer education and ICT infrastructure.
Questionnaires for Computer Teacher
The questionnaire contain 16 questions on the theme of the use of computers in providing education to the students. The questions were related to the use of ICT and the extent of the use in the classroom and labs. The problems faced by the teacher and how these were solved bore a direct relationship with computer awareness. Purpose of using computer showed the trends of computer usage in the society and gave an insight to the use of ICT in education. Some questions were asked about the valuable software and certifications given at school level and the qualifications of the teachers responsible for giving ICT and computer education to the students.
Questionnaires for Teacher
For Computer Teachers:
Questionnaires for Students
The questionnaire contained 18 questions linked to the ICT awareness and indulgence in teaching activities of the school. Some questions also related to the availability and use of computers at home to show the level where students are exposed to computers in the modern age. Simple questions were asked about the familiarity with computers and Internet. Time spent on the computers and its purpose indicated the awareness of the student and activeness of the teaching authorities in following ICT. Source of learning gave the idea of the awareness of the teaching authorities or any other active organisation in the area.
Since the survey was part of a broader programme for community, we had to limit our survey to 18 schools only. Though actual number of schools in Hamirpur district may be larger, it was decided to survey the schools which were either primarily situated in town or closer to NIT Hamirpur. Survey team also visited Sujanpur and Alampur. These towns are 27km and 35 km far from Hamirpur. Based on the survey following results were obtained.
- According to the survey conducted in schools the ratio of boys and girls is 61:39.
- As per the survey 95% of the boys and 92% of the girls are familiar with computers.
- 43% of the surveyed boys and 31% of the surveyed girls have computers at home.
Analysis of Government and Private Schools:
- Our survey included six government/government aided chools and 12 private/trust aided schools.
- 31% of the students study in government schools and 69% of the students study in private schools.
- There is not much difference in students per school ratio as there are 536 students per government school and 586 students per private school study.
- As far as computer infrastructure is con cerned, government schools have 30 computers per school where as private schools have 15 computers.
- The condition of proper government schools is not up to the mark as the computers are less as well as very old.
- The ratio of the students per computers in government schools is 18:1 & in private schools is 38:1
Analysis of Infrastructure in schools:
- The total number of computers in 18 schools was 361.
- Percentage of Computers upgraded in the last three years are:
83% in 2005-06
62% in 2006-07
87% in 2007-08
- 13% of computers available in school were accessible to teachers.
- 78% of computers available in the schools are exclusively meant for students.
- Out of 361 computers, only 54% had Internet provision.
- Only 18% computers were connected to printers.
- Average annual expenditure of hardware infrastructure is INR 49,166 per school out of 18 surveyed schools.
- Average annual expenditure on software infrastructure is INR 15,388 per school out of 18 surveyed schools.
Observations and Recommendations
- As per the observed result the current state of the ICT infrastructure in the schools is not up to the mark. School authorities need to take initiative by improving ICT infrastructure like upgrading current Computer Systems and purchasing new systems.
- Upgradation of the current infrastructure should be done in hardware and software.
- To take real advantage of ICT, schools should implement it in the current education system.
- School authorities should be responsible for conducting or participating in ICT awareness programmes.
- There should be frequent use of ICT by teachers in the preparation and delivery of curriculum.
- Teachers should encourage students to avail benefits of ICT during studies and learning activities.
- As per the observation, students are getting much addicted towards the field of entertainment. In spite of this they should be much concerned towards educational purpose of computers.
Government Schools and Private Schools
- The awareness level of ICT in the govt. schools is much low compared with private schools. The students of the government schools are not much exposed to the latest technology. The government should take serious remedies for improving this drawback.
- As per the observation, the ICT infrastructure in government schools is much older and needs to be upgraded to compete with fast moving technology.
- In contrast with the government schools, government aided schools like 'Sainik School' and 'Blue Star Public School', etc are providing much better ICT facilities. The government should revise its policies and if needed implement some new policies to get equalised with others.
- Financially weak schools should be provided basic facilities of ICT
- Schools should seek the financial help of other organisations to better ICT infrastructure.
- Though most of the trust aided schools are financially strong but they still lack in utilisation of funds in the field ICT.
Some of the schools have acquired a high degree of competence in the applications of ICT. Thus, initiatives in sharing their experiences and best practices with students of other schools will facilitate other schools to learn from their knowledge and leapfrog in the race of school development. In view of this, the identification, selection and customisation of the choice of technology have to be undertaken seriously and with a great degree of planning so as to motivate the young minds. To take the students towards a knowledge society by using ICT necessitates that all the schools in society take a pro-active role in this development. ICTs are being used and can be used in various fields but the most important one is field of education. ICT implementation in school can open vast opportunities of learning and teaching. It provides huge amount of new information and techniques for teachers and students that can help take education to a broader level, which is becoming essential. The ICT survey of schools in Hamirpur has given us an insight into the preparedness and commitment toward ICT education of children. The results show that if ICT in education has to sustain, much effort from the government is required. Private institution tends to overcrowd the classes and the effective utilisation of ICT resources becomes difficult.