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In a welcome move, an e-library has been established with the support of the Indian government.

Connecting more of our schools

In a welcome move, an e-library has been established with the support of the Indian government.

Both school and college students will have access to around 2 million books, periodicals, and other learning resources on the e-library.

In addition, they will be able to access textbooks and other material from the curriculum.

This is a significant step for the education sector in the country.

The technology to a vast ocean of knowledge is now available to students and teachers at the click of a button.

The question is how will they be able to access this immense volume of information.

There is now a need to further improve student access to computers and mobile devices that can connect to this e-library.

According to the annual education statistics, while 188 schools have computers, most primary schools do not. This is attributed to their remote locations and lack of electricity in these areas.

Furthermore, the average student to computer ratio for schools with computers is estimated to be one computer for every 43 students as of 2015.

At the primary level, the computer to student ratio is estimated to be one computer for every 144 students.

When it comes to internet connectivity, which is likely needed to access the e-library, the statistics are not as rosy. Only 44 percent of public schools have internet access. The situation is better when it comes to private schools with 89 percent having internet access.

In addition, about 13 percent of public primary schools do not have electricity while only 59 percent of public schools reported possessing a working landline.

In view of this, there is a need to perhaps explore alternative ways of how we can further bridge the gap so that our students and teachers can easily access information online such as the e-library.

A few years back, there was a project conducted in one of the remote schools in Bhutan called the One Laptop per Child. Despite each laptop costing USD 100, the plan was to see if every student in Bhutan could eventually have one. Obviously, the plan wasn’t realistic but the concept is worth re-attempting, but in smaller steps.

With technology evolving constantly, it is realistic to consider providing every school with cheaper devices that have mobile connectivity. Expensive and bulky desktops are on the way out.

Both the telcos in Bhutan are expanding their mobile data coverage and with more schools equipped with cheaper devices like computer tablets, students and teachers could connect to the vast amount of information floating online.

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