Education is an essential tool for the economical and social development of a nation. Proper development of human resources is crucial to that. To make everyone able to receive education, there are different forms of educational programmes and provisions. In India, adult education, open and distance education, Operation Blackboard, sarva siksha abhiyan, and so forth have been put in place to achieve universalisation of education. The literacy rate has shown an increase from 36.17% in the 1970s, 52.19% in 1991, to 65.38% in 2001. An increase in the strength of educational institutions is also evident from the fact that while there were over 20 universities and 500 colleges in 1947, now India has 311 universities (including 19 central universities, 206 state universities, 86 deemed-to-be universities, 13 institutes of national significance, and five institutions established through the State Legislature Act; Dhir, 2004). The Indian higher education system is said to be the second largest after U.S. in the world, based on the expansion of institutions, student enrollment, and faculty. But to this rosy picture, the other dark side of the coin is that in spite of having this large educational infrastructure, higher education is accessible only to 6% to 7% of 18- to 23-year-olds, as found out by a World Bank report (2001) and Kumar (2004). Dongaonkar (2004) reported that there are other developing countries that have a higher percentage of educational coverage, for example, Indonesia (11%), Brazil (12%), Mexico (14%), and Thailand (19%). The government of India (2002) has laid the emergent need of providing educational opportunities, for more than 3.2 million children (six to 14 years) and 100 million adults (13 to 35 years) need school education.
Information And Communication Technologies
The emergence of and advances in information and communication technologies are playing a very important role in the national economic and social development. In the Indian context, adoption of ICT in education becomes more prominent, keeping in view the fact that out of a billion, nearly 700 million people belong to rural areas where creating a basic formal infrastructure for education is difficult. The ICTs in education brings portability, flexibility, and learner centricity. The past few decades have witnessed a low penetration of ICT equipment like computers, fixed and cellular telephones, and Internet-access devices, primarily due to their high costs, liberal policies of the government of India, the development of indigenous technologies like Simputer (simple computer) and corDECT (a cost-effective technology for Wireless Local Loop (WLL) telephony and Internet access), the telephone, and the increased density of the Internet in India. According to the annual report (Government of India), the country is witnessing rapid growth through the reforms envisaged in the telecom sector and pursued through National Telecom Policy 1994 and 1999. As of March 31, 2004, the total number of phones in India was 70.6 million (growth of over 40%), raising the telephone density from 5.11% in March 2003 to 7.02% in March 2004. Growing popularity of people toward mobile phones and greater involvement of the private sector (from 20.96% on March 31, 2003, to 39.27% on March 31, 2004) are main factors behind this incremental growth. Of the total phones, nearly 34% are cellular mobile phones, and if we add WLL phones, the ratio increases to 44%. The annual report also points out an ambitious space communication programme having eight operating Indian National Satellite (INSAT) networks at 48E, 55E, 74E, 83E, 93.5E, and 111.5E orbital locations that are having fixed and mobile communications.