Kerala's digital education model a global exemplar, says UNICEF Study

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jul 6 (PTI) A UNICEF India study has extolled Kerala's digital education initiatives (EdTech), describing it as a model not just for other Indian states, but also for middle-income and developed countries.

The report titled "Empowering Adolescents with Future-Ready Skills - The Inspiring Story of Little KITEs," was published here on Saturday.

Rani George IAS, Principal Secretary of the General Education Department received the copy of the study report from Pramila Manoharan, UNICEF India educational specialist, in the presence of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and General Education Minister V Sivankutty.

The study focused on the Little KITEs programme, considered to be the largest ICT Network of students in India, implemented by the Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) across 2,174 high schools in the southern state.

Aligned with global and national efforts to develop future-ready skills alongside United Nation’s Global framework, the study offered 10 data-driven recommendations, an official statement said here.

Kerala's KITE-led EdTech model, without relying on profit-driven vendors, is both scalable and adaptable, making it valuable for other regions, the report pointed out.

It underscored that choosing Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) over proprietary software has technological, economic, social and pedagogical benefits, as demonstrated by KITE's success.

The report also noted that Kerala saved Rs 3000 crore by using open-source software and even Finland has expressed interest in replicating the Little KITEs model.

The Little KITEs initiative contributes to Kerala's transformation into a knowledge society and economy, fostering creativity and problem-solving skills among children while addressing gender disparity in STEM fields by encouraging girls' participation.

Additionally, the programme has attracted students from private schools to enroll in public schools, it further pointed out.

The UNICEF study urged expanding Little KITEs' to all high schools and Higher secondary levels and recommended involving local bodies and communities for increased investment in public education.

The report goes beyond commending Kerala's infrastructure, including the deployment of 9000 Robotic Kits and AI / IoT training for Little KITEs.

“In closing, it is evident that Little KITEs is a well-sown seed in the fertile ground of EdTech in Kerala.

It has grown rapidly and has promoted a wide range of students across the public school system to explore creativity and problem-solving, to connect school to life in innovative ways, and to architect safe digital futures”, the study concludes.

Dr Akila Radhakrishnan, Social Policy Specialist with UNICEF India said that the UN agency's study identifies the Little KITEs programme as a truly unique FOSS based EdTech intervention, and it was committed to sharing its success stories with other States and Countries.

“KITE seeks partnerships with UNICEF and others to bring Little KITEs to new regions. The study identifies areas to strengthen the Little KITEs program. We are also looking for FOSS community help to support AI development,” said K Anvar Sadath, CEO of KITE.

The study report has been published in UNICEF website, the KITE statement added. PTI LGK ROH