With the increase in digitisation, education should be provided at students’ doorstep

Successive governments have found it challenging to provide people access to education and healthcare. The problem rises when it comes to those in rural areas. Technology tools could be a big support system for the states and centre in providing quality healthcare and education services to citizens spread across India’s villages. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will do well to address the issue of teachers’ absenteeism that is rampant in government-run schools. As reported in Financial Chronicle, hand held GPS-enabled devices, should improve teachers’ attendance in schools. Technology and connectivity could be leveraged in states and central government schools to improve the quality of education and bring them on par with private schools. While curbing absenteeism should be the first step towards improving government-run institutions at the primary, middle and higher levels, connectivity may come in handy while providing volunteer lectures by subject experts – which would help students from rural areas in subjects like English and science. With the increase in digitisation and connectivity, school education should be provided at students’ doorstep at times convenient to them. Even the conduct of examinations, evaluation of answer scripts and award of grades must move to the digital mode. Native languages based education should be a focus area as well even as efforts are made to build confidence among the students concerned. Technology and connectivity will have to take the culture of sports, games, physical, mental and spiritual education to villages thereby turning schools into centres of village activities. Jaitley must make a beginning in this regard while presenting the last full budget of this government. In fact, art and culture activities could also be done via technology intervention. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ can be taken to classrooms via All India Radio (AIR) and associated terrestrial TV networks, it stands to reason that quality education can be provided to students in this manner as well. Apart from technology leverage, innovations in teaching, teachers training and reorientation could be achieved through a live schools link. Technology link should not be limited to curbing absenteeism alone. Providing primary healthcare services need not be a Herculean feat anymore given that technology is a weapon in the hands of the government. Over 60 per cent of primary healthcare centres have become defunct because of rampant absenteeism of doctors, nurses, paramedical and support staff. As a first step, Union health minister J.P. Nadda should seek ways for providing comprehensive technology cover to treat common ailments of people in remote areas. Ayurveda, unani, ayush and homeopathy based healthcare services could well be taken easily to these areas. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who sets great store by energy-based solutions for problems, would do well to have the government provide quality education and healthcare services in rural India.