back arrowGo Back


Analyzing Global Perspectives on EdTech Policies

By Gouri Gupta and Riya Sarin

Jul 20, 2023

With a good sense of the state of evidence on EdTech, this blog analyzes EdTech policies of different countries and their approach towards implementation of these policies for school education. Countries in focus here are Singapore, the United States of America (USA), China, and Indonesia, and are chosen for their relevance to the Indian context.

With a good sense of the state of evidence on EdTech, this blog analyzes EdTech policies of different countries and their approach towards implementation of these policies for school education. Countries in focus here are Singapore, the United States of America (USA), China, and Indonesia, and are chosen for their relevance to the Indian context.

Singapore was one of the earliest adopters of a comprehensive EdTech policy globally. The Global Competitiveness Report 2001-2002 recognized the EdTech achievements in Singapore are second in the world after Finland. The United States has two well-laid out EdTech policies and, in addition, the US has also taken the lead in integrating EdTech in teaching and learning practices. China, comparable to India in terms of its population, has enabled a large proportion of its schools with EdTech programs in a short span of time.  Lastly, Indonesia, as its education system shares a lot of parallels with India. For example, education in Indonesia is compulsory and provided free of charge at public schools from grades one to nine, including six years of elementary education and three years of junior secondary education.

  1. Singapore

Singapore embraced EdTech in 1997 and has been a pioneer in its adoption to bolster education at schools and homes across grades. The Ministry of Education, Singapore (MoE-S) has introduced four EdTech Policy Master Plans (MP) so far with clear goals for meaningfully integrating technology in education – MP1:1997 to 2002, MP2: 2003 to 2008, MP3: 2009 to 2015, and MP4: 2015, and beyond. The first plan-MP1 had a budget of S$2billion, which was almost S$650 per student in Singapore. By 1990, all schools in Singapore had a computer for their information management and by 1996, teachers were trained to use teaching and learning software. Starting in 1997, the four master plans were set into motion and benefit the 428,773 students and 32,680 teachers across 356 schools today (Tin, 2008) (MoE-Singapore, n.d.). ICT has been a key enabler in accelerating Singapore’s economic development.

  1. United States

The United States is the world’s largest EdTech market and has been at the forefront of integrating EdTech in teaching and learning. EdTech in the US has been spurred by a clear vision of integrating Edtech into education, a burgeoning product market, and the National Education Technology Plan (NETP)- is the flagship educational technology policy document for the United States. It was first released in 1996 and has been updated every five years since then. The latest plan was released in 2016, on the lines of the 2015 ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’ (ESSA). The vision of EdTech in these policies emphasize on its potential for democratizing education by bringing equity in learning. As per the National Council for Educational Statistics (NCES) data, the mandatory K-12 structure in the US comprises 1,30,930 schools divided into 3 levels of education (primary/elementary, junior/middle and high school). For its 3.2 million teachers and 58.7 million students, the federal agencies spent a total of USD 708 billion in 2016-17 (NCES, n.d.).

  1. China

In China, the education system is divided into three categories: basic, higher, and adult education. By law, each child must complete nine years of compulsory education from primary school (six years) to junior secondary school (three years). In 2018, there were 213,800 schools for compulsory education across the country with 9.73 million teachers and 400 million students. Over the past two decades, the Chinese government has created and implemented multiple policies and initiatives across the country to ensure effective and equitable access and usage of ICT in primary and secondary education (Omidyar Network 2019). Furthermore, recognizing that the development of high-quality resources, content, and pedagogies lagged behind the development of ICT infrastructure in the 2000s and the early 2010s, China has strengthened the emphasis on the development of the former over the past decade (Abbey et al. 2019). Educational reform has prompted the creation of five-minute classes, massive open online courses, micro-lectures, and other digital resources (Jiao et al. 2014), which are used in various combinations to assist students based on their education level. In 2018, 96.5% of primary school teachers had an associate degree or higher and the average number of instructional computers per 100 students in primary schools increased from 10.5 to 11.1, and that in junior high schools rose from 14.8 to 15.2 compared to last year. As per the Ministry of Education’s statistics for 2018, 97.8% of primary schools had internet access. The urban-rural divide in internet access is negligible- 98.3% of primary schools in urban areas and 97.7% primary schools in rural areas have internet access. Similarly, 99% of junior high schools have access to the internet.

  1. Indonesia

Indonesia has the fourth largest education system in the world, comprising over 50 million children, 3 million teachers and 300,000 schools (7% of primary schools are private, 56% at the junior-secondary level and 67% at the senior-secondary level) (ASEAN, 2014). Out of these schools, approximately 84% are under the Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC), while the remaining 16% fall under the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA). As the Indonesian Archipelago consists of more than 17,000 islands, the education system is highly decentralized, and a considerable amount of power resides within provinces and districts to use budgets for their respective localized contexts. That said, the school system is still centrally steered by the MoEC, which is responsible for curriculum, planning, implementation and monitoring of educational practices in the country. In this system, Indonesian schools are accountable to several different institutions as they are operated by regional governments but regulated at the federal level. School curricula differentiate schools as ‘regular’ schools or madrasah (Islamic) schools. Regular schools are operated by the Ministry of National Education (MoNE), while madrasas are under the governance of the MoRA. This complex network of authoritative bodies in the education system requires EdTech companies intending to scale in Indonesia to successfully communicate and negotiate with many different stakeholders — central- and regional-level government, three ministries (noted above, along with the Ministry for Research and Technology, which is responsible for higher education institutions), and the BAN-SM (Badan Akreditasi Nasional Sekolah Madrasah) — while also accounting for the different needs of regular vs. madrasah and public vs. private schools.

Here we describe key learnings for India from the experience of these countries in designing and implementing effective EdTech policies

  1. Infrastructure and Connectivity
  • The primary focus of Singapore’s EdTech Master Plan 1 (1997-2002) was to equip all the schools with devices, internet, and support to adopt EdTech.
  • NETP in the US recommends procurement through leasing and cooperative purchasing of devices. It has declared the internet as an essential resource and private players are encouraged to set-up internet connections at highly subsidized costs in rural areas in students’ homes and schools.
  • Indonesia is extensively investing in its internet infrastructure to enable access across all its citizens. Through projects like Palapa Ring project, construction of a massive, nationwide internet network using fiber-optic wires that connects capitals of over 500 districts has been completed and will help bridge the digital divide in the country.
  1. Software and Content
  • Singapore setup baseline standards for ability-driven learning outcomes for its students. Thus, national and state initiatives shouldn’t just target providing access to infrastructure but also target learning goals of students.
  • The National Educational Resource Public Service Platform in China is an open and public platform operationalized in late 2012 that aims to host all digital educational resources on one database by 2020 (Abbey et al. 2019). This can serve as a learning model for the National Digital Education Architecture creation for India.
  • The ‘Prestigious Online School Classroom’ is a program in China through which high-quality schools share their educational resources – via school networks, online courses, etc. – with schools across the region or the country (ibid.).
  • China also has a framework for regulating the EdTech content provided by the private sector for the purpose of quality assurance and contextualization to the needs of the local population.
  1. Capacity
  • The evolution of Pustekkom in Indonesia from serving as a content supplier in 1978 to becoming the central government’s chief governing body for ICT usage in education in 2008, can serve as a learning for India’s NETF and provide a roadmap for successful implementation in the coming years.
  • The US EdTech policy lays emphasis on continuous capacity building of educators. Programs like Teach to Lead1 provide a platform for teacher-leaders and allies across the country (and around the world) to create and expand on ideas (OET, n.d.)
  • The NETP encourages shared responsibility of teachers and school leaders for the success of EdTech programs, giving teachers the independence to evaluate CAL programs that are best suited to their needs.
  • China has always ensured that both students and teachers have a collective understanding and experience of using ICT in school, and learned best practices for the same (Miao 2008). The MoE-C organizes and implements new rounds of teacher training, integrates local projects and resources, constructs a teacher selection platform, and promotes training aligned with the needs of teachers.

The learnings from EdTech policies and corresponding implementation experiences from Singapore, the United States, China, and Indonesia can be instructive for India in development of its own EdTech policies.

Content Source: EdTech for India- Leveraging Technology to Bridge Learning Gaps, 2022, CSF



Authored by

Gouri Gupta

Project Director, CSF

Riya Sarin

Project Manager, CSF

Share this on

Subscribe to our Newsletters
Voices from the ground: Featuring stories of #ClassroomHeroes