Under the National Digital Education Architecture (NDEAR), the Ministry of Education is pushing States to open Vidya Samiksha Kendras (VSKs), a data repository which will have data from all schemes run by the Ministry of Education (MoE).
This will include regularly updated data from the PM-POSHAN mid-day meal programmes; teacher training data from National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement portal; textbook content from Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing; school dropout and attendance-related data on Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE+); students’ learning outcomes from National Achievement Survey; and Performance Grading Index which evaluates school education system at the State/U.T. level.
Currently, at the Central level, a VSK centre is housed in the Central Institute of Educational Technology building in the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) campus with multi-national IT company Ernst and Young, managing its operations. It is an open-source platform run on C-Qube software.
EkStep Foundation, which is a non-profit organisation co-founded by former Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India, Nandan Nilekani, is on board in an advisory role for implementing the VSK project, MoE officials said.
“Currently the data are fed on the platform manually, and available in downloadable Excel format for anyone to access and use, to visualise and analyse trends,” said a senior NCERT official working closely on the project.
“We will shift from manual mode to automatic mode once the Application Programming Interface (API) integration process is complete. This means multiple platforms at Centre, State and district levels can communicate with each other using requests and responses to seamlessly integrate data at all levels on the platforms,” the official added. This is in line with the National Education Policy, 2020 talking about developing operational standards for making data open source.
“The Centre has allocated funds ranging from ₹2 to ₹5 crore to each State for adopting and establishing VSKs that include pre-configured open-source hardware and software as well as hiring human resources. States like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Jharkhand have already begun the process of setting up the tech platform,” the NCERT official further added.
The idea of bringing all data on one platform is to employ analytics for co-relation. “Currently we have a sea of data from different schemes that cater to 15 lakh schools, 96 lakh teachers, and 26 crore students but it is irrelevant if it cannot be co-related or analysed,” the NCERT official said.
For instance, in certain schools, Gujarat has employed biometrics to capture attendance patterns of students and teachers. “The attendance gets recorded and reported at State level. This can be mapped with trends of student drop-out data to analyse any co-relations between both data sets,” another official from the MoE working on the project said.
Another instance would be co-relating data from the mid-day meal scheme or PM-POSHAN with attendance. “This will give us insight on whether in those demographical areas where mid-day meals are provided regularly, students are more incentivised to attend schools,” the MoE official said.
In Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh, at a district-level VSK centre started on a pilot basis, data from the students’ weekly tests are fed into the system to monitor their improvement over a certain period of time. “This enables categorising the child based on just grades and cater to their personalised needs,” the MoE official added.
The idea of developing VSKs is also to map the school location layer with the population layer to assess the Gross Access Ratio, which can help plan for new schools, or for industry clusters to understand skilling requirements of the area, and help plan higher educational institutions based on demand and future scenarios, said Rajnish Kumar, Director, National E-Governance Division, Ministry of Electronics and IT, who was formerly with Ministry of Education.