Can technology enhance educational quality?


Himalayan News Service

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There is no denying that education is more costly than manufacturing goods. The rising tuition fees, expensive educational support materials and services delivered by teachers, and so on constitute a significant part of the overall cost which makes education dearer than other goods and services. Today, the majority of the people from around the world cannot afford their children’s exorbitant educational expenses. The cost of education has further gone up with the introduction of associated modern technology.

My entry in the Tribhuvan University in 1983 as a lecturer was the landmark of my teaching career. I entered the classroom which looked very dismal and in a poor shape. No chairs or benches were available for latecomers. So far as I remember, the classes consisted of more than 100 students, among whom 20 students would stand at the back of the class for the lack of chairs for them. I would go to the class with three or four sticks of dusty chalks, which sometimes wouldn’t be sufficient for the whole lecture, and a duster in my hand. By the size of the class you could tell I had to speak at the top of my voice to be heard by all the students present. Furthermore, I needed to write huge letters on the blackboard to facilitate the students’ vision, particularly those in the back. But, today, even though the class size is still the same, I am using marker pens in lieu of the dusty chalks and a loud speaker to help make my ‘not very loud’ voice audible to all the students.

This is the aid of technology that is available to us. It has made the teacher’s life more convenient. We are surrounded by the advanced technology that helps enhance the capability of the teachers and students. In this age of technological advancement, many more advanced techniques of teaching have been developed, and they are in practice worldwide. Information Communication Technology (ICT) is the most convenient advancement that facilitates both teachers and students to learn new things through entirely new methods. In addition, the entire setting of the classroom has changed, especially at the private colleges. One of the private colleges that I teach in has very well-furnished cozy rooms. The class size is limited to twenty students, the teacher’s desk has a laptop for presentation, and every student has his/her own laptop to work with.

The evolution in education with the introduction of technology over the past twenty years has in simple terms replaced the dusty blackboard with a projector screen, and has totally eliminated chalks and dusters, and teachers use marker pens wherever necessary. Previously, students jotted down important points from the lecturer in their notebooks with their pen, but now they can get all the lecture notes online. The internet facility has made it possible for the students to access and submit assignments online from wherever they wish. Many of the tests and quizzes are online, so they can access it from home itself.

Furthermore, both students and teachers can have access to related materials, even lectures delivered in other universities around the world. There is also a digital technology in which the class lecture can be taped and used repeatedly. Missed lectures can be recovered by an absentee using this technology.

This miraculous technological development in ICT has brought about an abrupt change in service sector delivery. However, this technology has made the cost of these services even higher. In an economist’s point of view, the cost of education is ever-rising compared to other goods, making it out of reach for many with cash crunch. Only the affluent can have access to such highly advanced technology. This has led to discrimination in delivering services in health and education. The government should have to play an important role in providing these facilities to all the citizens.

The state welfare function is now more relevant, significant and essential to create a just and equal society. The government should provide these facilities for those who are unable to use it. It is true that the advancement in technology has high positive impact in the quality of education. But, since it is only accessible to the affluent, it would be unjust for those who cannot afford it. The latter cannot use the modern technology without government subsidies.

If the government fails to provide these technologies in delivering services to the people, it will, no doubt, create an unequal society. Public schools, colleges and universities should be equipped with these facilities. This helps to improve the quality of education of the students throughout the country, and in turn helps to create a competent and just society.

With the introduction of ICT in education, the quality of education will definitely be improved. Today, Nepal’s economy depends largely on remittance. If our education system is made effective through the introduction of ICT, the brain-drain of our youths will decline, as they will have better skills that would enable to them to earn better income within the country or outside, which in turn will boost the economy.

(Source: The Himalayantimes, Published on December 14)