Solving the ‘Learning Crisis’ in Developing Countries Through Jugaad Innovation Education Technology: A Qualitative Study

COWLEY, T. and ATKINSON, D. (2018) "Solving the ‘Learning Crisis’ in Developing Countries Through Jugaad Innovation Education Technology: A Qualitative Study"

International Academic Conference on Education&Humanities and Social Sciences(WEI-EHSS 2018-Niagara Falls) at Niagara Falls, Canada, November 20-22, 2018.

This paper was written by Thomas Cowley and his tutor David Atkinson, and was presented at this conference in Canada.

Cowley and Atkinson's paper is also published in the West East Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 8. pp. 61-92.


This study set out to investigate how combining jugaad innovation with Education Technology (EdTech) can help solve the ‘learning crisis’ in developing countries. The problem centres on education quality; large volumes of underprivileged students in developing countries are attending school, but many fail to learn basic skills (The World Bank, 2018:3). Globally, over 617m students are failing to achieve minimum proficiency standards in maths and reading (UNESCO, 2017). Consequently, the global problem in education is not simply about the provision of learning but also ensuring high quality (Pearson PLC, 2018). This research explores how jugaad innovation, including key themes such as the jugaad innovation process and jugaad operating models, could inspire the development and use of EdTech in order to improve education quality for the masses in developing nations. In order to investigate how jugaad innovation theory and EdTech can help solve the ‘learning crisis, this study used a case study approach and four semi-structured interviews. The investigation relied on understanding the interviewees’ experiences, how they describe them, and the meaning behind those experiences. As jugaad theory is not well understood in practice (Agnihotri, 2015; Ajith & Goyal, 2016; Jain & Prabhu, 2015), a case study with semi-structured interviews achieved a better insight, through uncovering rich, empirical evidence to answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions (Ridder, 2017). Jain & Prabhu’s (2015) work highlighted three core principles of jugaad innovation: frugality, flexibility and inclusivity. Jugaad is a verb to describe the innovation process itself, and a noun to characterise the process outcomes. Conceptual views suggest jugaad innovators put diffused education technologies through a jugaad innovation process, whilst utilising a human rights-based approach to education quality. Therefore helping to deliver quality learning for consumers at the bottom of the pyramid. However, the findings of this study advocate that although a human-rights based approach is essential; high quality learning content, educational scaffolding, an understanding of factors impacting technology adoption and the use of traditional teaching methods are also important in solving the ‘learning crisis’. A partnership operating model is required to combine jugaad innovation with EdTech; and to scale and commercialise such innovations. Findings also identified a fourth, holistic principle of the jugaad innovation process, namely, iterative design. The study’s findings put forward ways to implement a frugal, flexible, inclusive and iterative EdTech innovation process. Results confirm that education quality is multidisciplinary (EdQual, 2010). Jugaad innovators must partner with state departments of education and/or NGO’s to access their network of learners, resources and capabilities. This will serve learners at the bottom of the pyramid in volume and mitigate against the problem of ultra-thin per consumer margins (Kansal, 2016).

Keywords: ‘Learning Crisis’, Developing Countries, Jugaad Innovation, Education Quality, Education Technology, EdTech.