Google makes education push in India

Google said on Monday that it has partnered with CBSE, an Indian government body that oversees education in private and public schools in the country, to deliver by the end of this year a “blended learning experience” across 22,000 schools in the world’s second largest internet market.

The Search giant, which today also announced plans to invest $10 billion in India over the course of five to seven years, said it will train more than 1 million teachers in India this year and offer a range of free tools such as G Suite for Education, Google Classroom and YouTube to help digitize the education experience in the nation, which like other countries, closed schools earlier this year to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Google said it sees three challenges in the education system in India: Quality of digital content in Indian languages, teacher readiness to use digital tools and access to devices and the internet.

“We must acknowledge that not everyone has access to internet,” said Sapna Chadha, senior marketing director at Google India and Southeast Asia, at an online event Monday. She said the company is working with partners to address the aforementioned challenges and reach even those students who don’t have access to internet by using TV and radio and other mediums.

In recent months Google has provided free education tools such as Google Meet and Google Classroom to a range of schools in India including Podar, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Nehru World and GD Goenka, she said.

Google’s Monday announcement follows a similar effort from its global rival Facebook, which partnered with CBSE earlier this month to launch a certified curriculum on digital safety and online well-being and augmented reality for students and educators in the country.

The Android-maker also announced a new grant of $1 million to Kaivalya Education Foundation (KEF), a foundation in India that works with partners to provide underprivileged children with education opportunities, from, Google’s philanthropic arm.

“Using these funds, Kaivalya Education Foundation will work with the Central Square Foundation and TeacherApp to train 700,000 teachers to deliver virtual education for vulnerable students so that they can continue learning at home,” said Chadha.

Separately, Google said it had also partnered with state-run Prasar Bharati, India’s largest public broadcasting agency, to launch an edutainment series to help business owners tackle the evolving challenges of COVID-19 with online tools, learn from other companies and plan for the long-term future.

The Android-maker also announced that Bolo, an education app it launched in India last year that helps students develop reading and comprehension skills, is expanding to 180 countries in nine languages under Read Along brand. The company first unveiled its plan to expand Read Along worldwide in May.