Amazon Web Services has big plans to support Indian edtech companies and NGOs, says top executive

Tech giant Amazon Web Services (AWS) will support Indian education start-ups and non-governmental organizations to fill learning gaps in the sector. AWS works with the public sector to drive economic development through investments in infrastructure, job creation, and education in communities around the world and in India.

“We are at a very early stage of how the cloud can be truly used in India’s public sector to create positive impact on citizens through government transformation, accelerate healthcare outcomes, close the gaps in education through edtech, enable startup innovation, and support nonprofits,” Max Peterson, vice president, global public sector, AWS, told Business Today.

While the Indian government has several mission-mode projects focused on solving many declared and undeclared problems in areas ranging from banking and land records to health and education, Peterson said AWS is helping the government to make India digitally inclusive.

AWS has dedicated programs such as AWS EdStart and AWS Start-up Ramp to accelerate public sector initiative in India.

“An example here is how AWS EdStart – our start-up accelerator program for edtechs – enabled upGrad in its early stages to reduce the upfront costs of building on the cloud and deploying those funds in more other strategic areas such as product and program development. Today, upGrad is not only among the largest education technologies in India, but is improving the skills of over two million enrolled learners in over 100 countries,” said Peterson.

“A key priority for us is to pursue dedicated programs and initiatives that enable and accelerate the broader ecosystem that drives innovation in the public sector. We see the opportunity to help more startups build capacity and accelerate their innovation that could serve public sector segments such as education, space, agriculture, healthcare, smart cities, smart infrastructure, government services and nonprofits,” Peterson said.

Indian NGOs are also using the scale and functionality offered by AWS. For example, ShikshaLokam is a philanthropic organization that works with various state governments and local NGOs to provide capacity development for school leaders such as principals.

“It provides open-source technology solutions such as lessons, videos, quizzes, workbooks, simple observations and school assessments, which educators and NGOs can use to design programs at scale.

“ShikshaLokam chose AWS to host its open-source Sunbird data center infrastructure management solution and to build its digital platform. Reliability and scalability are among the key requirements of their digital platform, and ShikshaLokam has experienced higher uptime since beginning its journey with AWS in 2019,” Peterson said.

“Today, ShikshaLokam works with over 10 NGOs in eight states across India and has empowered over 150,000 public education officials through its on-demand digital learning and improvement programs,” said he declared. AWS, Peterson said, recognizes that technological innovation goes beyond skills and that the power of technology can only be truly realized if there is a skilled workforce to harness it.

AWS recently announced its collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to deliver cloud and ML skills at scale across thousands of AICTE-affiliated universities.

“We are working closely with government and educational institutions to develop a future workforce with cloud and machine learning (ML) skills,” Peterson said. Education spending in India, for example, was less than 3.5% of GDP in 2020-21, compared to a global average of 4.2%.

“Improving access and quality of education is a priority for fast growing countries like India. However, the human and financial resources needed to achieve this may be scarce, given competing interests for a share of shrinking national budgets,” Peterson said.

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