How can AI/ML be Leveraged in Solving Educational Inequality?

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have received substantial attention in the 21st century by researchers, governments, and the public, mainly because of their ability to propose dynamic and innovative solutions to social and economic problems.

AI and ML have played a major role in changing the landscape of the Indian education sector.

Inherited as a socially unjust ecosystem it has now grown into an organized system of education through policy reforms and with Indian institutions adopting technology-based approaches to address the disparity in educational facilities among different sections of the society. Inequalities may have gradually declined over the years but they are not fully gone. The right to education is still a battle in some parts of the country. Class, linguistic background, gender, socio-economic condition, ethnicity, and region affect a child's education. There are almost 260 million students in its 1.5 million schools and by 2030 India is supposed to have the largest youth population which may prove to be a boon only if these young people are skilled enough to enter the labor market.

A lot of efforts have been put into making the best use of technological advancements and the latest innovations to overcome the shortcomings in the education sector. The state, as well as the central government, has been promoting the usage of smartphones, AI/ML-based solutions, and digital learning as a means of teaching in schools. Artificial Intelligence is defined as the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior to make digital processes smarter. Real-time text to speech and text translation systems is used to disseminate information in any regional language. DIKSHA and e-Pathshala, the digital infrastructure set up by MHRD and NCERT, respectively, have numerous resources available in various languages. This can help remove the language barrier and achieve interoperability of teachers across states. The Use of AI chatbots can reduce the current workload of teachers. These chatbots can be trained on subject matter and a good percentage of doubts of the students can be answered instantly. Uttar Pradesh government is set to use such AI bots in its senior secondary exams.

High dropout rates, especially at the upper elementary and secondary levels in the backward sections of the society, plagued Indian schools and have left a dent in the ambitions of the government to provide education to all. To curb this problem Andhra Pradesh government has tied up with Microsoft, Classification ML models are used to predict the chances of a student dropping out, by identifying patterns from complex datasets. Personalized learning content can be used to guide the students at their own pace, where the system adapts to their unique personalities as opposed to the traditional learning system where a one size fits all is adopted due to logistical constraints. Schools in Gangtok, Sikkim are using adaptive assessment software to set exams for their students based on their pace of learning. Turn the Bus too provides high quality educational content for high school students, through their app and YouTube channel which are tailored for them using AI technologies.

These experiments certainly show that integrating innovative practical and application-driven approaches can help effectively deliver an inclusive, egalitarian, and high-quality education system for India’s young population. AI and ML research is accelerating at a breakneck speed and we are amidst a data revolution. Now is the time to leverage these solutions to solve socio- economic problems at scale.

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