Policy Lab: AI & Education, Oct 2019

How will AI change the education sector in India? This lab is the fifth in a series of six policy labs to examine AI trajectories in India.

Education is critical for improving social mobility for the poor and marginalized communities. However, consistently low literacy levels and skills mismatch continue to highlight the in congruence between India’s development goals and the capacities of its workforce. The Indian education sector has been plagued with infrastructural and pedagogical challenges that have limited access and participation in various levels of education, especially for the rural and marginalized communities. Low quality, inequity, lack of management and efficient processes, research and development, and financial commitment to improving the state of the sector continue to be persistent challenges. Educational Technology is seen by many as a silver bullet for addressing the persistent challenges of access and quality within the education sector in India.

Can new technologies provide an opportunity to ‘leapfrog’ in the education sector – improve learning outcomes and increase access in rural areas and among marginalized populations without having to first address issues of basic infrastructure and capacity?

Educational technology, especially driven by AI is expected to play a pivotal role in ensuring access to learning driven quality education. AI driven solutions such as adaptive learning tools, Intelligent and interactive tutoring systems, drop-out prediction systems and automated teacher distribution systems are expected to alleviate the issues faced by the education sector. AI-based technologies developed on top of existing EdTech infrastructures have been touted to have the potential to make education personalized to each student to allow for greater self-actualization. The notion of AI interventions within the education sector is gaining traction with even NITI Aayog’s National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence paper identifying educational technology as a focus area for AI adoption.

However, the view of AI as a panacea for the persistent development challenges in the educational sector is not echoed across, with some experts calling for healthy scepticism of the techno-deterministic approach to augment educational capabilities. There has also been an apprehension these interventions may entrench existing inequities instead of reducing them, especially after having seeing the technology gains of the previous edtech intervention primarily benefit the wealthier sections of society. While we are gearing up to leverage AI-driven solutions for education, it is important to understand how AI will/could change education, especially for rural and marginalized youth.


Aakash Sethi, Quest Alliance

Akshay Chaturvedi, Leverage Edu

Arpan Tulsyan, Independent Researcher

Cibe Hariharan, Jungroo

Mathura Govindarajan, peblio.co

Nikita Bengani, Quest Alliance,

Nishant Baghel, Pratham

Noopur Abhishek, Central Square Foundation

Pandurang Kamat, Persistent Systems

Sabeena Mathayas, National Skill Development Corporation

Shantanu Kumar, Infeedo

Sethuraman T A, Jungroo

Sreehari Rabindranath, Dream a Dream

Tanay Mahindru, NITI Aayog

Varun Sahini, Goa University


Abishek Reddy

Abishek Reddy K is a Research Fellow at Tandem Research. His current work is focused on the technological  trajectories and social effects of  Artificial Intelligence. He is interested in understanding the relationship between technology, society and behaviour, and how they shape each other. He has a MSc(Hons) in Biological Sciences and BE(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering from Birla Institute of Technological Sciences, Pilani

Aishwarya Shridhar

Aishwarya Shridhar is a Research Associate Tandem Research. Her current work is focused on the narratives of workers in India’s digital platform economy. Aishwarya is interested in the intersection of social identities with experiences of work. Her Master’s thesis is centred on perspectives of labour and community among sex workers in Mumbai. She has a MA in Social Work (Community Organisation and Development Practice) from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and a BA in English Literature from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi.