IT Education @Kerala : K Anvar Sadath, Govt of Kerala, India

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In conversation with Shri K Anvar Sadath, Executive Director, IT @ School Project, Govt of Kerala, Yukti Pahwa, finds about the progress of the project in state, the only state with 100% literacy rate, and the future prospects the project has to offer for the coming year of 2011

Kindly highlight the state specific initiatives in the K12 segment across Kerela in the year 2010?

IT@School Project has been in forefront of implementation of an ICT enabled educational system in Kerala, ever since the Project commenced in 2001. As a result of its numerous ICT initiatives over a decade long period, it is in 2010 that the complete shift from IT education to ICT enabled learning is happening in the State. The year 2010 has witnessed some key initiatives of the Project that has changed the whole scenario of ICT based learning. This year the project received ‘Honorable Mention’ in the prestigious ‘Sto-ckholm Challenge Award’. Some of them includeSome of them include – the School Wiki portal which was launched to promote collaborative content development among students, apart from being a comprehensive database of schools in the state. The Model ICT School programme was rolled out in order to encourage school authorities to enhance their infrastructure facilities thereby upgrading their institution to be a model in ICT enabled learning. A total of 140 schools (one from every constituency in the state) was selected as Model ICT School wherein Smart Classrooms which were equipped with electricity and broadband connectivity facilitatning smooth ICT based learning as well as a state of art Computer lab with.most modern multimedia equipments was set up. Third is the ‘Student School IT Co-ordinators (SSITC)’. In 2010, over 28,000 Student School IT Coordinators were trained by the  Project, which enabled them to even train their classmates in addition to   handling most of the hardware related issues in their schools. Forth is the enhancement of ViCTERS into a complete educational medium. It is the flagship programme of IT@School Project. Today the channel is aired for 17 hours a day and is packed with local, national and international contents which include contents prepared by students, teachers, various educational institutions and  even by NFDC, Deutsche Welle, BBC etc. Fifth is the Resource DVD with 8GB  capacity was developed by the Project especially for the benefit of teachers. Finally, an unique educational reality show titled Haritha Vidyalayam – first of its kind in the country, which focuses primarily in promoting the best practices followed in Government Schools as well as Government Aided schools in areas suchas academic, scholastic, collaborative content generation, unique projects, achievements in terms of infrastructure, ICT enabled education and Social indulgence. The web portal www.harithavidyalayam. org gives a real-time update on the programme, scores and even includes the videos, photos and  other relevant information on each school. What will be the focus of your State in the year 2011? In 2010, the Project has successfully deployed ICT based learning system in Standard (Std) 8 in the State, besides the regular IT education from standard 5th to 10th. This system would be further expanded to Std 9 in 2011 and to Std 10 in the subsequent year. The deployment of free software based school management system, in line with the UID Project of Government of India, would also be an area of focus of the Project in year 2011. This would invariably comprise of a comprehensive database of all students in the State

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“In 2010, the Project has successfully dep loyed ICT based learning syste m in St andard (St d) 8 in the St ate , besides the regular IT educati on from standard 5th to 10th. This syste m would be further expanded to St d 9 in 2011 and to St d 10 in the subsequent year”

and this would also be linked with the Education Departments’ Plan Welfare
schemes. IT@School Project has successfully deployed several e-governance
initiatives within the department. In terms of Capacity Building, the Project would aim at re-inforcing the teaching community with newer ICT technologies and the same would be extended to the SSITC (Student network) populace.

What is your plan to bridge the digital divide in your state?

IT@School is envisaged as a model for mastering the ICT approach through a three pronged approach. It spans the entire continuum of IT education that extends from IT Instruction at one end (teaching software hardware, and programming) to IT enabled education (where all the education delivery is done based on IT with multiple touch point sranging from class room technologies to instructional design and delivery) at the other end, in a phased manner. There were numerous challenges in the past for the Project to meet its goal and there are many more ahead in its path to success. Ensuring enough ICT hardware in all schools in the state is a daunting challenge, which the Project has taken up in a phased approach. Keeping the teaching community updated in emerging trends in ICT skills is yet another challenge. Strengthening of interactive mode of learning, strengthening of online media such as  School Wiki and ViCTERS etc would be challenges the Project would be facing in near future,

What is your opinion about Public Private Partnership (PPP)?

From our experience, we have learnt that PPP would be less effective in termsof content development, ICT content being part of the State Curriculum. Forthe same reason, these contents need to be developed internally by the subjectteachers themselves. Public private partnership could be undertaken in terms of infrastructure deployment in schools and allied activities. The gap which the Project might experience in terms of technical expertise in this domain could be overcome through public private partnerships.

Where do you see your State in the next three years in terms of educational initiatives, especially in context of ICT?
In terms of new initiatives, the Project oversees new technology not as an isolated entity but as part of the overall teaching and learning process which would eventually help in setting up a complete digitally equipped state. The new ICT based learning system which has kicked off in Std 8 would be expanded to other secondary and higher secondary levels. The next three years would be crucial to the Project, when it would aims at extending the ICT based system to other classes. Every school needs to be equipped with Smart Classrooms, apart from having all teachers fully equipped in ICT. The Project would also look at expanding its SITC and SSITC network further to the extent of making every school self-sufficient in ICT learning. New areas of Satellite based learning using EDUSAT and ViCTERS would also be looked at.

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