The Great Indian Education Challenge

If education is the cornerstone of society and if technology truly is the great leveller (think Sugata Mitra's school in the cloud),  then doesn't it follow that the fundamental challenge for a country like India with its explosive population growth is not education reform but infrastructural development, namely widespread and affordable access to electricity and high-speed internet connectivity? These two areas have the power to unlock a whole host of potential educational innovations that make good learning accessible for all.

While I remain forever the champion of blended learning, it's worth noting that, unlike the human element (which relies on scarce talent), the tech element of these learning models has the benefit of scaleability. Scaleability means far-reaching and sustainable impact. It means driving down costs and broadening access. It's a magical word that will warm the heart of any venture capitalist but it is even more important where populations (and stakes) are as high as they are in India.

There are a few ingredients in the mix that make India an interesting space to watch. On the one hand, you have the appalling educational and income inequalities. On the other, you have this culturally embedded respect for learning that cuts across society (even if "success" is still often tied to exam results and defined on a relative basis through rankings). And then you have the country's track record in leapfrogging technological innovations - for example, skipping the laptop and going straight to mobile (unsurprising given the gulf between internet and mobile penetration).

Big challenges call for creative solutions. This is, after all, the country of "Jugaad" or frugal innovation - skilfully stretching resources and maximising their potential. Would it be so surprising to see this same India become a hotbed for edtech innovation in years to come?