Yes, its time where the providers of computing hardware, education-related software and content are eager to tap into business as the state and central government are prepared to set up spending to take education beyond cities and towns to villages.
HCL Infosystems CEO Harish Chitale says "India is spending 2.5 crore on learning at a macro level. I's a market that continues to have a double-digit growth every year. At present, only about 5% of that is technology-enabled."
The technology market researcher IDC has revealed that, about 5% of the $40 billion i.e. 2.4 lakh crore IT market in India, including hardware, software and IT services, was in the education sector. The market is expected to grow at nearly 12% through 2017.
The Indian government's education programmes already have some technology component, but that is tiny compared to the overall spending. In 2013-2014, the government allocated more than 27,000 crore to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, with a provision to spend 50 lakh in every district on computer-aided learning. This will grow in the coming years.
Cisco, which provided remote learning services to schools in Raichur in rural Karnataka as part of a corporate social responsibility programme, is now offering similar services for a price as part of its inclusive business division. The division launched the Cisco Education Enabled Development Solution earlier this year at a monthly fee of $1 (60) for every student.
Intel, which runs a teacher training programme in villages and has an education product that is sold through computing devices, is also looking at this market.
Some Indian companies are already running for-profit digital learning models in the villages. SREI Sahaj of the Kolkata-based Kanoria group runs an e-learning portal provided through government's common service centres that have been created at the panchayat level.
The learning on the systems is certified by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).