|NIIT School Learning Solutions celebrated monumental milestone at NIIT University
After successfully empowering over 10 million school children across the nation through computer training and having delivered IT-assisted education to the doorsteps of over 16,600 schools, NIIT Ltd.’s Schools Learning Solutions (SLS) business, celebrated its accomplishments, on 7th October 2011, at its campus in Delhi’s satellite city – Neemarana.
Inaugurated by chief guest, Kapil Sibal, the Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Communications and Information Technology, the event received congratulations from the honourable minister for touching the lives of people who have never seen a computer—the marginalised and the have nots. Praising the SLS, Sibal went on to declare, that “for just one institution to provide computer learning to 10 million students was a monumental task and not possible without passion.”
In his keynote, the Minister talked about the transformation taking place within education over the centuries, where teachers were no longer the sole repositories of knowledge. “The 21st century has changed all that, and in this environment, the role of students, teachers, content, and delivery has also altered,” Sibal stated.
According to the Minister, there was new energy in imparting knowledge to learners. Computers had placed the world in the grasp of their hands.
“We want to reach knowledge to the disadvantaged, so that they can access it by just a touch of their fingers. That is India’s journey for tomorrow. The question is how we can take this journey forward,” Sibal said.
The Minister added that the 21st century was all about collaboration, not just between the teacher and the student, but between the community, the neighbourhood, the private sector and governments. In order to empower children, it was important for the entire eco-system, and all stakeholders to engage and redefine their relationships.
“This needs a paradigm shift—in the way the role of teachers and students—is reinvented. We will have to reinvent the way learners interact with nature, and the world beyond. Education is not just about cold print. In the 20th century, text books were the key. Today, there is a need to break through the walls of the classroom. Technology is the enabler that will help students go beyond the classroom, grasp the world, traverse the information highway and relate to the environment around them. Teachers will have to help students enter the doorways they want to go through, to choose the paths they want,” he shared.
“Open your minds, break barriers,” the Minister exhorted the students.
Under the aegis of SLS, NIIT launched its ‘NIIT@Schools’ programme in 1999 with the prestigious BOOT project, targeting 371 government schools in Tamil Nadu. It now reaches 16,600 schools in 18 Indian states. From Keylong (Himachal Pradesh) in the North, to Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu) in the South, and from Vandh (Gujarat) in the West, to Agartala (Tripura) in the East, the programme spans the length and breadth of the country, connecting with students in the farthest and remotest corners of India.
The minister recognised the exemplary performances of Mahasweta Kumar from the Mangaldoi Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Darrang, Assam, the national winner of the MCA 2011. Anirudh Iyengar from Pune, was also acknowledged as the first candidate to successfully complete the innovative IGNOU certificate programme in chess as a mind booster.
Sibal also presented plaques and citations to four principals, who had received National Awards for introducing computer based learning in their institutions.
During its historic journey, SLS has created 23,936 hours of content, set up 1,07,209 computer based learning nodes, and selected, trained and certified nearly four lakh computer teachers in India’s schools. NIIT has indirectly contributed to the development of several villages in the country where basic urban facilities like electricity, telephone and internet connectivity was missing. Children in these villages now receive computer learning. Located in the nooks and crannies of India, these villages now have schools with regular power supply, and telephone and Internet connectivity.
NIIT flag-bearers including Rajendra Pawar, Chairman and Managing Director, NIIT, Hemant Sethi, President, School Learning Solutions, Rajeev Shorey, NU President and Kapil Sibal, the Union minister for Human Resource Development who set the ceremony in motion with the traditional lighting of the lamp, against the backdrop of an invocation.
Talking in detail about SLS and its evolution, its President,. Hemant Sethi highlighted the key signposts in its timeline. These, he said, included the launch of HIWEL (the well known Hole in the Wall project) that aimed to take ‘minimally invasive’ computer learning to underprivileged children; the NIIT MindChampions Academy (MCA), set up jointly with World Chess Champion, Viswanathan Anand to promote chess in schools; and NIIT’s innovations in the area of education such as the Interactive Classroom, the Mobile Science Lab and Math Lab. Sethi spoke about how the MCA, guided by Anand, had set a new Guinness World Records in 2010, enabling 20,430 participants to play Chess simultaneously, as part of the Swarnim Gujarat initiative. He also shared the news about NABET, an accreditation programme for schools, introduced in 2011.
Sethi’s introduction to SLS was followed by a special film on NIIT’s tryst with India’s children, and how it had evoked a spirit of curiosity and the love for computers in them.
The event was brought to a close by Rajeev Shorey, who thanked the Minister for joining NIIT in its historic celebration, and encouraging both learners and teachers to look to the future.