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CCEA approves National Mission on Education Through ICT scheme

The new centrally sponsored National Mission on Education Through ICT has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. The scheme, submitted by the Ministry of Human Resources Development, is expected to incur INR 4612 crore during the 11th Five Year Plan. There is a budget provision of INR 502 crore during the current financial year for the project.

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The National Mission on Education through ICT has been envisaged to leverage the potential of ICT in providing high quality personalised and interactive knowledge modules over the Internet/intranet for students in Higher Education Institutions in 'anytime anywhere' mode. The interventions of the Mission are to be delivered through the one-stop education portal 'SAKSHAT', which was launched in 2006 by the Department of Higher Education.

The scheme is expected to be a major intervention in enhancing the Gross Enrollment Ratio in higher education by 5 % during the 11th Plan period and in ensuring access and equity in higher education, as also recommended by the Oversight Committee and the National Knowledge Commission.

The Mission has two major components viz., (a) content generation and (b) connectivity along with provision for access devices for institutions and learners. It seeks to bridge the digital divide among teachers/learners in higher education domain and empower those who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to joint the mainstream of the knowledge economy. The scheme will focus on appropriate pedagogy for e-Learning, providing facility of performing experiments through virtual labs, on-line testing and certification, on-line availability of teachers to guide learners, utilisation of EduSAT and Direct to Home (DTH) platform, training and empowerment of teachers to effectively use new methods of teaching, etc.

On the one hand, the Mission would create high quality e-Content for the target groups and on the other, it would simultaneously extend computer infrastructure and connectivity to over 18000 colleges in the country including each of the departments of 419 universities/deemed universities and institutions of national importance on a single point rental basis through the Department of Telecommunications, in a manner that would permit their seamless interaction with a integrated National Knowledge Network

The Mission shall work in close cooperation and collaboration with other Missions/Schemes such as the National Translation Mission, Vocational Education Mission, National Knowledge Network, ICT@Schools, etc, to avoid any duplication and attain synergy.

It would also have a three-tier committee system to monitor and guide its functioning. The MHRD and Department of Higher Education would enter into a MoU with State governments for proper monitoring of the scheme in States.

Mumbai schools to have Language Labs

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is to set up language laboratories in 49 schools across Mumbai. The initiative comes after additional importance was stressed on improvement of oral languages in schools specially from the disadvantaged sections of society. BMC has taken State Institute of Educational Technology (SIET), Pune on board to work on improving four languages of English, Hindi, Marathi and Urdu.

The labs proposed at the cost of INR 50 lakh is primarily aimed to cater to the learning needs of secondary schools. The first lab will come up in Gildertank school as a pilot project.

Automated examinations for Anna University

Anna University has streamlined its examination processes with deployment of integrated examination management solutions (IEMS). The new system will automate complete examination cycle and also act as a solution to fight malpractices such as leakage of papers. It will develop a database of questions submitted by the faculty and generate the question paper based on them.

Under a five year agreement, the university will pay Mindlogicx INR 75 per student per examination, to be deducted from the examination fees. Each student will get a unique user ID and password to log on to the system. Mindlogicx has set up a Network Operating Centre (NOC) in the university campus and examination data center for other colleges in various districts under the university. The project is implemented in 110 colleges spread across eight districts of Tamil Nadu wherein the university and the colleges are networked through VPN.

Gujarat to spend INR 500 crore on computers for schools

The state will install ICT peripherals in 500 primary schools under BOT model. Educomp has struck the deal in the state for Computer Aided Education (CAE) programmes under the Gujarat Council of Primary Education (GCPE). The state has allocated INR 500 crore over five years to buy 1,50,000 computers, peripherals and LCDs to equip some 20,000 primary and upper primary schools in the state along with 3D multimedia educational content software, school management system and IT training to teachers across the state. The state will also get funds from the Centre to upgrade IT infrastructure in secondary schools.

IGNOU to set up a Centre on corporate training

Corporate training is now an essential component of most of the companies under the Human Resource Management work domain. The regular problem of attrition and new recruits in companies has created a need for regular training sessions and knowledge of corporate management. Keeping these needs in mind, IGNOU has launched its new initiative under the Centre for Corporate Education, Training and Consultancy' to develop programmes on corporate education consistent with the requirements of the corporate sector and industry.

The Centre will educate human resources, boost their capacity and train them on-the-job in an industry set-up. It will also develop insights into corporate management, governance practices, strategy formulation and related law, besides their delivery mechanism among others.

AMU to set up countrywide campuses

Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is poised to set up five countrywide campuses, which will take it beyond its birthplace. This, sources said, signalled that AMU was trying to reconcile its overzealous concerns about its minority status to the equally important need for growth. Last year, AMU had opened four admission test centres outside Aligarh, in spite of stiff resistance from a strong internal lobby about its minority character being diluted. All sections of AMU management – the AMU court, executive council and academic council – have for the first time unanimously agreed on the proposal to open new centres.

'It's a historic initiative,' vice-chancellor P K Abdul Azis said. Reader Arshi Khan, an elected member of the Academic Council, said, 'The university feels that it should seize the UPA government's allocations for minority institutions.' However, faculty members like Khan still feel that the expanding university should exercise 'precautions' to protect its character

NET made mandatory for teaching in higher education

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has made National Eligibility Test (NET) mandatory for teaching jobs in higher education, in a reversal of a decision it took three years ago. Those holding a Ph.D degree, however, continue to be exempted. The UGC has told universities that those already registered for M.Phil and completing the same before June 2009, shall be exempted from NET. However, NET will be compulsory for the candidates completing M.Phil degree after this date.

In 2006, the commission had exempted M.Phil degree holders from NET for appointment as faculty for undergraduate teaching. Later the B L Mungerkar Committee, constituted to review the decision, recommended that NET be restored as mandatory as the exemption was leading to deterioration in the quality of teaching.

Delhi plans INR 196 crore for inclusive education

The Education minister has announced the updgradation of 200 selected government schools for infrastructure facilities and 63 government schools to the secondary level. The state with an average per school allocation of INR 60-70 lakh aims to improve drinking water, toilet, electricity and having green boards in all classrooms. The Directorate of Education has engaged the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) and the Public Works Department (PWD) for this upgradation, under which additional rooms will also be constructed.

The effort aims to build schools that are inclusive and bring down the out-of-school ratio of students. The Department of Education informs that 24 government schools in Delhi will be turned into 'model schools' implementing policies regarding the mainstreaming of children with special needs on the Building As a Learning Aid (Bala) model. The schools will be equipped with labs for the hearing-impaired, braille books etc with trained teachers from the Rehabilitation Council of India.

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