The government action plan India Bolstering ICT in Schools

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If we start counting theilliterates, the number is more  in India than any country in the world, but at the same time India has highly competent human resources as well as a strong base in  information and communication technologies (ICT). India has one of the  largest ICT workforces in the world. The country has made major strides over recent  decades, increasing by  six-fold the number of children  enrolled in primary schooling. Still recent government analyses show that more than  25% (59 million school-aged children) are not now in school, and probably a larger  number of older youth received little or no schooling at all. Another dimension of  the concern for increased quality of education in India  is the relative lack of ICT resources and access in the schools. In light of these  growing concerns for universal basic education, the Government of India is  moving forward with a variety of plans to increase access to education for all sectors of  Indian society and now with a  design to take advantage of ICTs to assist in all  dimensions of school education, it has drafted the ICT in schools scheme that  can influence the country’s overall growth other than opening up the window of  ICT readiness in education sector only

India recognised the importance of ICT in education as early as 1984- 85 with the Computer Literacy And Studies in Schools (CLASS) Project introduced as a pilot. A total of 12,000 computers were distributed to  secondary and senior secondary schools through the State  Governments. 2598 schools including 325 Kendriya Vidyalayas were covered under the CLASS scheme  during the 8th Plan for providing instructors, maintenance of hardware,  consumables and textbooks for students and training of teachers in  schools. During the 9th Plan period, CLASS scheme was discontinued and  a revised scheme was launched during 2001-02.  The review of the scheme has shown that in spite of challenges in implementing the CLASS scheme, the  overall response that it has generated
in the various states has been extremely encouraging. Some states  like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh and Manipur  have achieved remarkable success. National Task Force on Information  Technology and Software Development constituted by the  Prime Minister in July 1998 then made specific recommendations on  introduction of IT in the education sector including schools. The Report recommended provision of computer systems to all educational Institutions up to Higher Secondary/  Secondary Schools by suitable investments (about 1-3%) of the total  budget during the next five years. The centrally sponsored scheme of  ‘Educational Technology’ and ‘CLASS’ have been suitably modified   eeping in view the past experience, the feedback which has been received and changing needs to form the new  scheme of ‘ICT in Schools’. The ‘ICT in Schools’ scheme is a  window of opportunity to the learners in the schools of India to bridge the  digital divide. The scheme is not a simple merger of the earlier CLASS  and ET Schemes but is a comprehensive and well thought-out  initiative to open new vistas of learning and to provide a level playing field to school students,  whether in rural areas or in the  metropolitan cities. The ‘ICT in Schools’ Scheme is not a stand-alone scheme while actively soliciting the partnership of States, Union Territories & other organisations in a mutual endeavour.

Financial parameters
The States would have the option to incur expenditure to an overall maximum limit of INR6.70 lakhs per school. The Central Government’s  share would be restricted to INR5.00 lakhs per school.
Managing further
At least two schools in each of the identified educationally backward blocks would be taken up for assistance under the ICT in Schools  scheme. The provision for software shall include Learning Management  Systems & curriculum based courseware apart from operating  systems & other application software. Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya  Vidyalaya Samitis would convert one school per State/Union Territory into  a SMART school subject to availability of funds. At least one  section (of 40 students) in each of the class IX – XII is hoped to be fully  computerised. Thus a school having 160 computers @ 40 computer for each IX to XII classes may be called a  SMART school under the scheme. Both KVS and NVS have identified the schools, which will be converted into a SMART School. 

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Proposed activities
The project will illustrate the following activities.  • Production of Audio, Video and  Multi Media programmes in the project mode by the State Institutes of Educational Technology established at Pune,  Bhubaneswar, Patna, Lucknow,  Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Thiruvananthapuram • Training to teachers and teacher trainers in the production of lowcost  audio-visual aids, help in script development, media production, editing,  communication research, setting up and operation of audio and video studios and computerisation  of its various processes by Central Institute of Education  Technology/State Institutes of Education Technology (SIET)  • Financial support to States/UTson the basis of their Computer Education Plans  • Support to KVS/NVS for opening of SMART schools and for imparting computer literacy to  students in neighbourhood schools   Development of multimedia  content for use in schools • Development of teaching tools, designing training modules for  teachers   • Financial support for conversion of content into regional  languages • Projects for introduction of use of technology for the education of  children with special needs • Training of teachers and master trainers/resource persons in the  use of ICT tools for  nrichment of  curriculum and pedagogy  Apart from being evaluated by the Project Monitoring and Evaluation  Group that would function as the Monitoring Committee, there is  possibility of getting the ‘ICT in Schools’ scheme evaluated through an independent agency. Detailed  guidelines to facilitate implementation of the scheme shall be issued by the  Ministry of Human Resource  Development, Government of India.

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