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Scrutiny
 
LITERACY: ICT SOLUTION
Let Technology do it!
The Literacy divide between Urban and Rural India is Particularly Dangerous. Technology can Provide an Effective Solution
Issue Date - 12/05/2011
 
Today, millions of Africans are using mobile phones (m-banking) to pay bills, transfer cash and buy everyday items. It is based on the fact that millions of people who donít own a bank account own a cell phone. The same can be used to bridge the Indian rural-urban divide in terms of literacy. Indian education systems suffer from a non-uniform standard of teaching, teacher absenteeism, low access to schools et al, but technology can be one certain solution.

With 3G and mobile broadband services, internet can be made available to myriad students who donít have access quality education. With over 612.2 million mobile phone subscribers in India, this can be extremely effective. Distribution of iPads (especially cheaper Indian versions like ĎAdamí) along with the facility of downloading eBooks would go a long way. Adams cost $327 or Rs.15,700 compared to iPads that come for around $499, and further reductions in price are a positive sign. Massive proliferation of such tablets can be immensely beneficial as it would enable eBooks to reach remote villages at a fast pace and take care of the content standardisation problem we face currently. The Union Education Minister last year talked about introducing a touch-screen, wifi enabled, solar powerd tablet PC that costs just Rs.1,600. These are the innovations that have to pursued with extreme passion is India is to take the massive literacy leap.

Information & Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D) are used by All China Womenís Federation to help rural women get access to updated health information, by Cuba to promote online health initiatives and by Egypt to encourage rural education. In countries like China with a massive rural population, newspapers have begun to use ICT4D to reach larger audiences. The same could be done for India too.

 

Sray Agarwal           

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