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NEAT Initiative

  • 14 Jan 2022
  • 6 min read

For Prelims: NEAT Scheme, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)

For Mains: Edtech, National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Divide

Why in News

Recently, the Ministry of Education has announced a new National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT 3.0) to use technology for better learning outcomes in Higher Education.

Key Points

  • Model of NEAT Scheme: It is based on a Public-Private Partnership model between the Government and the Education Technology (Ed-Tech) companies of India.
  • Objective: The objectives of NEAT are to bring the best technological solutions in education pedagogy on a single platform for the convenience of Economically and Socially weaker sections of society.
  • Target Areas: Technology solutions using Artificial Intelligence for customized learning or e-content in niche areas having highly employable skills are being identified for showcasing on the portal.
  • Modus Operandi: Under this, the government plans to distribute free coupons for an array of courses offered by ed-tech companies.
  • Implementing Agency: All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)

  • It was set up in November 1945 as a national-level apex advisory body.
  • Its purpose was to conduct a survey on the facilities available for technical education and to promote development in the country in a coordinated and integrated manner.
  • According to the National Policy of Education (1986), AICTE is vested with:
    • Statutory authority for planning, formulation, and maintenance of norms & standards,
    • Quality assurance through accreditation,
    • Funding in priority areas, monitoring, and evaluation,
    • Maintaining parity of certification & awards,
    • The management of technical education in the country.

Ed-Tech

  • About: Edtech is the practice of introducing IT tools into the classroom to create a more engaging, inclusive and individualized learning experience.
  • Intended Benefits of Ed-Tech: Technology holds promise and has incredible potential. It can help in:
    • Enabling greater personalisation of education
    • Enhancing educational productivity by improving rates of learning,
    • Reducing costs of instructional material and service delivery at scale
    • Better utilisation of teacher/instructor time.
  • National Education Policy 2020: India’s new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is responsive to the clarion call to integrate technology at every level of instruction.
    • It envisions the establishment of an autonomous body, the National Education Technology Forum (NETF), to spearhead efforts towards providing a strategic thrust to the deployment and use of technology.
  • Scope: The Indian ed-tech ecosystem has a lot of potential for innovation.
    • With over 4,500 start-ups and a current valuation of around USD 700 million, the market is geared for exponential growth — estimates project an astounding market size of USD 30 billion in the next 10 years.
  • Associated Issues With Ed-Tech:
    • Lack of Technology Access: Not everyone who can afford to go to school can afford to have phones, computers, or even a quality internet connection for attending classes online.
      • According to National Sample Survey data for 2017-18, only 42% of urban and 15% of rural households had internet access.
      • In this case, Ed-tech can increase the already existing digital divide.
    • Contradiction with Right to Education: Technology is not affordable to all, shifting towards online education completely is like taking away the Right to Education of those who cannot access the technology.
  • Related Steps Taken:

Way Forward

  • Comprehensive Ed-tech Policy: A comprehensive Ed-tech policy architecture must focus on four key elements-
    • Providing access to learning, especially to disadvantaged groups.
    • Enabling processes of teaching, learning, and evaluation.
    • Facilitating teacher training and continuous professional development.
    • Improving governance systems including planning, management, and monitoring processes.
  • Technology is a Tool, Not a Panacea: Public educational institutions play an exemplary role in social inclusion and relative equality.
    • It is the place where people of all genders, classes, castes, and communities can meet without one group being forced to bow to others.
    • Therefore, technology cannot substitute schools or replace teachers. Thus, it should not be “teachers versus technology” rather “teachers and technology”.
  • Providing Infrastructure for Ed-Tech: In the immediate term, there must be a mechanism to thoroughly map the ed-tech landscape, especially their scale, reach, and impact.
    • The focus should be on access, equity, infrastructure, governance, and quality-related outcomes and challenges for teachers and students.
    • Special attention must be paid to address the digital divide at two levels — access and skills to effectively use technology and leverage its benefits.

Source: IE

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