Nitya Doshi, an 18-year-old IBDP board student in a private school in Mumbai is in a fix. AI tools such as ChatGPT allows her to complete her school assignments with ease but at the same time she is not sure of how to use AI in an ethical manner.

“AI has completely changed the way I approach school work. I now have an easy medium to access research and help me write essays. However, we are not allowed to do so as our work is detected as plagiarized. I struggle to use AI in an acceptable way in my assignments,” Doshi says.

As Generative AI rises to the forefront, Indian education systems is yet to adapt. Supriya Bhuwalka, the Founder of Coding and More says, “I believe AI Literacy is imperative not just for students, but also for educators in India.”

Availability of AI resources in schools

There is also a disparity in the use of Generative AI in schools. Gurumurthy Kasinathan, the Director of IT For Change, a Bengaluru based NGO that advocates the use of digital technology to create change in Indian education, states, “In the government school system we do not, and will not see the actual use of AI tools like ChatGPT. An exception is Kerala, where students are working on Public AI tools in the Little KITEs (Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education) Program. IT for Change is currently conducting a study on the program, and the program educates students on the use and development of AI.”

“By and large, government schools do not even teach the use of such applications. Language translation tools can be very useful to teachers to build multi-lingual learning environments which are supportive of language learning,” adds Kasinathan.

“For private schools as well, resources are stretched as the use of AI in schools are not mandated by the government. Schools recognize that it is important today, since the use of AI is inevitable for students,” comments Bhuwalka.

Importance of the ethical use of AI

Teaching the ethical use of these AI tools from a nascent stage is critical. “Using AI tools to write homework is going to become a serious issue. If the student analyses the output AI tools like ChatGPT produces and is able to provide a meta-analysis of that, it would aid learning,” Kasinathan says.

Surpiya Bhuwalka says “Coding and More is a company that hopes to propagate the AI curriculum that is recognized by UNESCO through classes with K-12 students. It is important to realise that Generative AI like ChatGPT responds solely with data that it has been trained on, which is skewed to that of a Western worldview. Responsible and fair use of such data therefore needs to be taught.”

Future direction for Indian education

The rapid rise of these developments comes with the subtext of a need for shift in certain aspects of the education industry. Bhuwalka says, “In the next one year schools will have to change the way they look at education. AI tools are imperfect and therefore schools need to educate and be educated on the same. These tools should be equipped for deeper inquiry, and can be trained to personalize education for children.”

However, there are certain caveats to these developments. Kasinathan says, “The biggest danger to education is going to be the ‘platformization of education’. Like Ola and Uber control public transport in many cities, a platform such as Byjus can become the monopoly in EdTech Services Provision Spaces. Such control of core educational processes of curriculum and pedagogy will lead to teacher de-skilling, behaviourist models of learning as well as exploitation of households by unscrupulous marketing agents of the platforms, this is especially due to the extreme information asymmetries between EdTech platforms and poor parents. If proprietary platforms are regulated, (China has banned for profit proprietary platforms in education) then education has a chance and AI can be used to support teaching and improve learning possibilities.”

For countless students like Nitya Doshi the tide has changed for how they receive an education, and schools need to evolve if they wish to fit the bill. “IBDP has begun to permit citations of AI tools as sources in papers, and thus my school has conducted lessons on the appropriate and ethical use of AI to guide us. This has taught me that if used as a source rather than as a means of plagiarizing, AI can be a useful tool for students,” Doshi says.

(The writer is interning with businessline’s Mumbai Bureau)