‘Good education limited to cities’

Vasco (Goa), March 30 (IANS) Educational researcher Sugata Mitra said here Saturday that good education in India was limited to only those in cities and that the quality of education is dismal in rural India.

Mitra, who recently won $1 million in prize money for innovation in education techniques, told IANS: “In India, good education appears to be the fiefdom of those living in urban areas. The further you go away towards rural parts of India, the quality of education deteriorates rapidly.”

“Good teachers migrate to cities in search of better opportunities, leaving the not-so-good ones behind. Training the existing teachers is the next best option. But after the training, the trained teachers migrate to the cities too,” he said.

“Training more teachers isn’t a solution,” he said, adding that the “Internet could work as a great leveler in such a piquant situation”.

“The Internet performs in the same manner, be it in urban or rural areas,” he said.

Mitra said that he was scouting for a place to set up his ‘School in the Cloud,’ a learning lab for children, in India.

“We are excited to be starting work on it soon but there are still a lot of loose ends to be tied up. We need a place which does not have a school nearby but yet has electricity and broadband connectivity. We have a few options in Western India, the Sundarbans and Orissa,” he said.

Mitra said that while ideas and engineering innovations were necessary, sustainability was an issue which was necessary to ensure that projects like the globally acclaimed ‘Hole in the Wall’ – project started in 1999 – lasted the distance.

“I would probably have shifted to tablets,” he said, when asked what modifications would he made to his project, which involved installing a computer near a slum in New Delhi.

‘Hole in the Wall’ was an eye-opener because it drove home a previously unimaginable message that children who were deprived of English language skills and were computer illiterates gradually learnt to use a computer to their advantage.

Mitra, a professor of educational technology at the Newcastle University, recently won the $1 million TED prize. He is known for his pursuit of “minimally invasive education”, which advocates a rethink of conventional schooling systems.

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