Digital Infrastructure to Enable Leapfrogging in Human Capital:
Experiences in the education sector in India
World Bank MC building, 1818 H St, NW, Washington, DC
4 December 2018
Annette Dixon, Vice President, Human Development, World Bank
Shankar Maruwada, CEO and Co-Founder, EkStep Foundation
Digital infrastructure such as the internet and GPS have catalyzed a transformation across the economic, social, cultural and political spectrum around the world. The layers (stacks) of technologies built on these digital infrastructure, like payment systems, mobile operating systems, maps, among several others, have triggered disruptive solutions in the sharing economy, social media, entertainment, e-commerce and mobility platforms and many more.
In the last decade, India has shown the leapfrog potential of applying digital infrastructure at population scale in areas like digital identity (Aadhaar) and fin tech (India Stack) for inclusive development. India is actively developing many other digital stacks as public goods.
The seminar shares EkStep Foundation’s recent experience of creating digital infrastructure ( Sunbird.org ) for education in India. This open and evolving infrastructure is being harnessed by Governments and nonprofits through a combination of programs and solutions suitable for the challenges of diversity and infrastructure in India.
The seminar will touch upon questions like:
- Can the idea of digital infrastructure be extended to developing human capital?
- Can digital infrastructure be built to catalyze capabilities of existing actors in a country’s education ecosystem?
- What role can enabling environments and co-creation play in realizing the value of digital infrastructure?
- How can digital infrastructure and enabling environments enhance the capabilities of individuals in the education ecosystem, restoring their agency rather than disempowering them?
- How can data empower users and help in creating an agile, yet systemic iterations of programs and solutions?
- What role can the World Bank play in taking these learnings to other countries? Is replicating the Bank’s Identification for Development program (ID4D) template desirable and feasible?
Shankar Maruwada will be accompanied by his leadership team, whose expertise spans strategy, technology and policy, across sectors - government, not-for profit and for-profit.
About the Speaker
Shankar Maruwada is the CEO of EkStep Foundation, a philanthropic mission he co-founded in 2015 along with Nandan Nilekani and Rohini Nilekani. Shankar has more than two decades of experience across the for-profit, not-for profit and government sectors. This allows him to bring the best of thinking across the three sectors, in shaping EkStep’s mission and its strategic choices of achieving population scale impact using technology, sustainably, and with speed.
He was part of the start-up team at Project Aadhaar (Government of India’s unique identification program), setup in 2009. He spearheaded the Demand Generation efforts to convince 1 billion + Indians to enrol for their digitally verifiable Aadhaar (12 digit unique identification number). Shankar pioneered data analytics in India through, Marketics, a company he co-founded in 2002 and successfully exited. He is an investor in startups and a mentor to entrepreneurs and not-for-profits. He started his career in Procter & Gamble. He is an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad and Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur.
About EkStep Foundation
EkStep Foundation , set up in 2015, is a philanthropic foundation based in Bangalore, India. The Foundation was created out of a mission to increase access to learning opportunities for 200 million children in India by 2020, with a focus on improving literacy and numeracy. EkStep is fulfilling its mission by creating open digital infrastructure for learning, to enable the education ecosystem - governments, not-for-profits and market players to build platforms, programs and contextual solutions to improve teaching and learning experiences at population scale in a sustainable manner. Aside from its core mission, EkStep is developing and evangelizing the idea of Societal Platforms as a way of thinking, to address social and developmental issues. EkStep believes that open digital infrastructure can be leveraged for developing programs and solutions at population scale for human development. EkStep is funded by philanthropic contribution from Nandan and Rohini Nilekani.
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