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Will Adopting Tablets in Schools improve Education in India

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Will Tablets help improve Edu'n in India
Over the last 15 years, a growing number of Indian schools have been upgrading their technology to include state-of the-art computers, accessible to all students.

The Elementary Education in India, 2011-12 report finds that, now 48% of India's 1.4 million schools have computers.

Industry sources also estimate that, the market for Information and Communication Technologies in Education, in India, was estimated at 2,85,000 crore rupees or $50 billion, in June 2012.

It is further expected to grow, to 5,70,000 crore or $100 billion by 2014.

The Indian government envisions all the country's children, rich and poor, studying from tablets. It plans to make the Aakash tablet, the world's cheapest, available to 220 million students nationwide at a hugely subsidised price of $20, starting with college students.

So far, Datawind, the manufacturers of the tablet, have reportedly delivered 100,000 of the devices to the government.

But critics say that adoption of tablets has been unfolding in a largely haphazard manner - that there hasn't been much thinking, for instance, on the age children should be exposed to this technology or to what extent should it replace more traditional ways of learning.

The first step, the expert suggested, is for the government to make the curriculum available on e-books, which can be hyper-linked to external sources. "We have jumped onto the hardware bit, which should be secondary or should run parallel to the content and teacher training," he said.

However, Ripan Sippy, a child psychologist in Delhi, said that using tablets and PCs is proving to have several advantages as educational tools. The expert says that these are far more "interactive and innovative" mediums than textbooks, which stimulate several senses like sight, hearing and touch. "Ultimately, it is the way to the future," he said. "The child doesn't get bored. There is better concentration and retention."

Presently, each school decides its own technology-policy. Two years ago, the Podar International School, a private school in Mumbai reportedly asked its middle school students to purchase the IPAD 2 for about 40,000 rupees or $800.

The technological requirements also come with the concerns of creating disparities in private schools, which are now required to enroll poor children, who will constitute 25 % of their schools.

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