A National Policy for ICT in Indian Education!

India today aspires to emerge as front-runner among the knowledge-based societies. Thus, the benefits of ICT revolution in providing education and training of desirable quality can hardly be over emphasised. Focus has been to provide universal access, equity and ensure provision of quality elementary education. Universalisation of access has nearly been achieved. Investment in the sector has resulted in satisfactory outcomes. 94% of our rural populations have a school within one sq. kilometer. The gross enrollment ratio has improved to 108.56 in 2004-05 from 96.30 in 2001-02 at primary level, and to 70.51 from 52.09 at upper primary level during same period. The dropout rate at the primary level has reduced by 10.50% i.e. 28.49 in 2004-05 from 39.03 in 2001-02. Use of technology in the classroom transactions has gained impetus in the form of computer aided learning in many States.

Champak Chatterjee, Secretary of School Education, Ministry of  HRD Government of India, during the eINDIA2007 inaugural speech made a mention of creating a national ICT policy in education soon

The challenge ahead is to provide universal access, equity and quality at the Secondary stage. As educational indicators are not very encouraging at the  moment, the responsibility is now to ensure substantial investment to improve the current scenario at the earliest. Use of technology by students at the Secondary stage pre-supposes their strength in terms of knowledge and skill development. As Internet has become more and more accessible, the world of information and innovations have become more accessible today.

Recognising the importance of ICT in education as early as 1984-85 Computer Literacy And Studies in Schools (CLASS) Project was launched. Today, exclusive Educational Television channel ‘Gyan Darshan’ has been launched to provide satellite based education across the country besides the interactive radio programme. In December, 2004, the ICT in Schools Scheme was launched to open a window of opportunity for secondary stage school students across the country in partnership with states/Union Territories. While the emphasis has been on the computer literacy programme, the advantage is now realised in use of IT tools for development of e-Content in the computer aided learning activities and self learning by students.

Need for a National ICT in Education Policy

While many States have developed their own policy on ICT in School education but at the national level there is a need for putting in place a coherent and enabling policy for use by all stakeholders. It has thus been felt to develop a set of policy objectives, guidelines, practices and knowledge tools to enhance the role of ICT in school education, particularly, by following a consultative and a participatory process with States, academia, NGOs, civil society organisations, practitioners and stakeholders. In this regard, Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative,(GeSCI) has offered its expertise and assistance to the Department of School Education & Literacy (D/SE&L), Ministry of HRD, Government of India in the formulation of the national policy.

GeSCI Initiative

GeSCI was founded by the United Nations ICT Task Force, and is a global organisation that catalyses, supports and convenes national and regional ICT in Education initiatives and provides strategic advice to Ministries of Education on the effective use of ICTs for education. In the recent past, it has facilitated development of ICT policy in education for a few countries, namely, Namibia, and Bolivia with on going work in Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda.

The International event of e-INDIA 2007, provided the right context to start a first level of discussion with the stakeholders and solicit recommendations from them.

The GOI has several National as well as State specific schemes that run concurrent to a large number of privately led ICT initiatives across India. In addition there are several ICT in education initiatives across the country and these account for a large degree of
understanding and awareness about the role that ICTs can play in enhancing the teaching learning process. However, the lack of a concerted, dynamic education policy has continued to hound the ministries of education, increasingly, this new tool