Even as the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, focuses on enabling the education sector besides harnessing the power of digital, yet achieving those remain a uphill task. In 2015, the ministry of education launched National Digital Library of India (NDLI) with the aim to provide digital learning resources across the country. “Implementing any project at grassroot level is a bit difficult. In terms of outreach we have worked with various schools, in which 90% are private schools, and only 10% are government schools. The reason is that most of the schools are run by the state, which brings forth contradictory political grounds while operating,” Vignesh Sornamohan, Chief Strategic and Outreach Officer, NDLI, told FE Education.
According to Telecom Service Providers (TSP) data, out of 5,97,618 inhabited villages in India, 25,067 villages lack mobile connectivity and Internet. Hence, digitalisation of education suffer from infrastructural challenges in the rural part of the country. “Connectivity is a major problem that has to be addressed in a public, government or private set up. Because of the pandemic, we have got a good mapping of connection availability in India. However, you can’t have digital education unless you have access to digital learning materials, which in turn, comes with connectivity,” Partha Pratim Das, joint principal investigator, NDLI, professor, department of computer science and engineering, IIT Kharagpur, said. NDLI is a government funded initiative, primarily implemented by IIT Kharagpur and was started in 2015. The current fund commited by the government is until March 2026, for which the allocated amount is Rs 15 crore annually.
As per industry experts digital transformation requires adequate cost and labour. “The state government completely refused to provide any extra funding. To digitalise content and bring transformation, state libraries need proper monetary aids. We have repeatedly given petitions regarding the same, which got rejected each time,” Pravesh Prakash, librarian, Lucknow University, said. For him, it is impossible to digitalise the whole education contents because of several issues such as copyright or intellectual property rights.
According to the eight schedule of the constitution, there are 22 written languages in India. Therefore, to digitalise all this content across languages is a challenge. “We need to have more local language and customised content for this country. If the government can invest in more regional language based content and bring it to NDLI platform, it will enhance the process,” Sornamohan added. For industry observers, library has to be a core part of the institution and academic curriculum, only then the usage will increase. “If students do not get access to the topics post-class, they can’t get to explore it, hence they loose curiosity to learn beyond the textbooks,” he explained.