While talks are still in early stages, the introduction of AI bots in schools across Uttar Pradesh is aimed to better invigilate exams and track student performance.
The Uttar Pradesh government is planning to use Artificial Intelligence AI-bots to upgrade the examination system for secondary school education and make education free from corruption and negligence. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has already partnered with Microsoft India to conduct capacity building programmes for high school teachers with the aim to integrate cloud-powered technology from kindergarten to class 12. The CBSE has decided to include AI and Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) as skill subjects in the school curriculum, following which Uttar Pradesh has mapped the same path.
State Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, who holds the secondary education portfolio, was unwilling to disclose details of the programme. "We will disclose things at the appropriate time," he said. A senior official in the secondary education department was more forthcoming. "Things are still in the planning stage and we are trying to ensure implementation of the programme for the 2020 board examinations," the official said. With AI-bots installed in Uttar Pradesh schools, the system will be able to track proxy invigilators and students besides the performance of an individual student based on his previous grades, participation and performance.
Such experiments in various schools, especially in Andhra Pradesh, is proof of AI working as a catalyst in streamlining the education system and helping institutions make better decisions. Implementing AI on such a large scale would help in fixing the loopholes in the current system. "The main problem with the Uttar Pradesh board examinations is the shortage of teachers and the inability to maintain the standard of teaching. In this scenario, when teaching is inadequate, the students, as well as teachers, resort to unfair means during examinations. You have proxy writers and proxy invigilators and the quality of education suffers," the official said.
Earlier this year, the state government took several steps to check malpractices in secondary board examinations and as a result over 10 lakh students dropped out during examinations. CCTV cameras were installed in all examination centres and the special task force (STF) of the Uttar Pradesh Police was deployed to check cheating. Prohibitory orders under section 144 were promulgated with a ban on outsiders within a periphery of 200 metres of the exam centres. Ravi Prakash Dubey, a secondary school teacher who retired last year, however, is sceptical about the use of AI in the state.
"Majority of teachers in the state are not even familiar with a computer and are already resenting the 'attendance by selfie' programme. The government should first ensure the proper assessment of the teaching staff. Good teachers will encourage good students. We know of cases where the teacher cannot spell and pronounce words like 'dangerous' and 'future'. How can such teachers be expected to give good education?" he said. Dubey also suggested that teachers be trained on AI before the programme is implemented. "This programme will provide teachers better access to the latest Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools and help them integrate technology into teaching safely and securely, thereby enhancing the learning experience and 21st-century skills of all students," retired university professor Ramesh Dixit said.