Telangana’s digital push to transform education

Dr  A Ashok, secretary, Telangana State Board of Intermediate Education (TSBIE)
Dr A Ashok, secretary, Telangana State Board of Intermediate Education (TSBIE)

As part of the ICT based initiatives, Telangana State Board of Intermediate Education has made gross investments of around Rs 25 crore in the past two years on computerization, CCTV & biometrics installation and developing innovative apps for students. “For a holistic transformation of governance in the education sector, the IT tool is extremely important”, says A. Ashok, secretary, Telangana State Board of Intermediate Education. In an exclusive interaction with Ankush Kumar, he talked about the key digital initiatives of the state in the education sector and futuristic strategies.

Edited Excerpts :

In a bid to bridge the digital divide and provide transparency and efficiency in the state owned education system, the government of Telangana has taken major tech-based initiatives. The Telangana State Board of Intermediate Education with the mandate to regulate and supervise the system of intermediate education in the state has invested heavily on technology equipments, services and application in the government schools. As part of the ICT based initiatives, the board has made gross investments of around Rs 25 crores in the last two years. Out of this around Rs 10 crore was spent on computerization of schools with another 10 crore on installation of CCTV and biometrics and Rs 5 crore in developing various innovative online applications for students.

“For a holistic transformation of governance in the education sector, IT is extremely important”, says A Ashok, secretary, Telangana State Board of Intermediate Education (TSBIE). He took charge two years ago when the state was about to launch Digital Telangana programme. “We have 22 services delivered to around 10 lakh students. Earlier these services were manual and the students had to get into a long queue to get various kinds of educational certificates where they were exploited by the middlemen. To improve efficiency and transparency in the system, we started online services and minimized human contact.”

Harnessing the power of mobility

The board has recently launched a ‘Centre Locator’ app that helps students to locate their examination centre easily. “The app tells the exact distance and location of the examination centre from the student’s residence. It also identifies the exact building of the examination centre along with the shortest possible route and traffic jam possibilities in real-time. So far, around 1300 examination centers throughout the state have been geo-tagged,” informs Ashok. Earlier the students used to face a huge problem as sometimes they ended up reaching a wrong college and by the time they realized it’s not the correct examination centre, it was too late for them. In the recently held intermediate exams in the state, the intermediate board has declared that no student will be allowed into the examination hall even if they are one minute late.

The board has also introduced a mobile governance application that offers various student related services through mobile. “Students can simply download the app and can easily apply directly for the certificate. A certificate preview is generated through the app and the printout can be taken directly from anywhere. Similarly, certificates like migration certificate, pass certificate and duplicate marks certificate can also be availed in this manner.”

Talking about the transparency in the examination process and ensuring a level playing field for every student, Ashok informs, “We have also digitized the system as now the online question paper reaches the examination center just minutes before the start of the exam with an OTP protected password. The OTP is given just 15 minutes before the start of the examination. Therefore there is no room for any kind of cheating or manipulation.” If there is a paper leak, there may be cases where students entering late in the examination centers are already aware of the questions. So in this way, when students are not allowed to enter late and the question paper which is also encrypted is reaching through digital medium, the chances of any unfair practices will be curbed.

Digital classrooms

As part of a futuristic strategy to strengthen the education system, the state is working on concepts like virtual classroom, digital learning, and digital study kits to make students more competitive. “We see a huge opportunity in virtual labs as government funding is limited and it is a very cost effective concept that saves infrastructure cost, lab maintenance cost, lab equipment cost, etc. The aim is to provide remote-access to laboratories in various disciplines of science and engineering for students at all levels from under-graduates to research.”

TSBIE also intends to develop a complete Learning Management System (LMS) where the students can avail various tools for learning, including additional web-resources, video-lectures, animated demonstrations and self-evaluation. There is also a component wherein costly equipment and resources are shared that are normally available to only a limited number of users due to constraints on time and geographical distances.

To bring self-discipline among the principal, teaching, non-teaching staff and students, the board has introduced biometrics and CCTV cameras. “We have around 404 government colleges in the state and many principals and lecturers in these institutions never used to come on time for decades. So we have installed CCTV cameras and biometrics and now they have to rush to reach the institute on time. This system has improved efficiency.”

In addition the board has plans to make digital libraries in all government colleges. “This consists of the use of digital and robo-learning tools and augmented reality. By the use of these concepts, the students will have a better understanding of the subject and they would be able to retain the learning for a long time which will help them to score more,” explains Ashok.

There are about 10 lakh students in Telangana colleges and out of which approximately two lakh students are from government colleges. The goal is to virtualize 100 classrooms out of approximately 404 state government colleges in the beginning of the upcoming academic year.

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