How edtech is bridging education inequalities

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In central Mumbai, India’s largest city and financial centre, the daily grind is always the same: university-educated city slickers rush around office blocks purposefully, setting up for their next business meeting on WiFi-enabled smartphones, tablets or laptops.

And barely miles away, families in their thousands struggle to survive in one of the biggest slums in all of Asia, where even electricity and clean water is hard to come by.

This clear disparity between rich and poor, educated and uneducated, is a painful reminder of India’s Gini coefficient (measure of inequality), said to be at its highest today since 1922. And it’s an image so many of the country’s brightest minds are fighting to change, as they join the mad rush up the professional and social class ladder.

Thanks to the introduction of education technology (edtech), we may finally see an end to such disparity. This is the vision of Jay Terwilliger, professional educator and advocate for the use edtech in India.

Speaking to Study International, Terwilliger explained the impact edtech can have at eliminating disparities across India’s regions.

“[Edtech] is actually a great equaliser. If we talk about modern instructional technology, the single greatest resource is by far the Internet, and equal access to the same can actually be had very cheaply,” he said.

Whilst richer private schools in India have an advantage over poorer areas, Terwilliger recognises that the main disparities between schools are differences in class sizes and differences in ability to meet children’s nutritional needs.

And the government is working hard to overcome these inequalities.

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“The digital gap is actually much more easily and cheaply dealt with than the other factors which contribute to those disadvantages: large class size, lack of access to formal schooling, poorly prepared teachers, poor nutrition and child labor are the bigger issues.”

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Mangi Tshikomba is a technology entrepreneur, Founder & CEO of Things Technologies and founding editor of EdTechDojo.co.za. He is a OYW Ambassador, Queens Young Leader and Brightest Young Minds Alumni. He holds BSc(Hon) Civil Engineering from Wits University, Jhb and Leadership Certificate from certificate from Cambridge University, UK. His interests are in Entrepreneurship, EdTech and Early Childhood Development (ECD).