The Gujarat Chapter of Code For India, a US-based non-profit organisation of techies from India launched ‘Skill Up India’ – India’s open source, free, online education portal.
“This is non-profit open education. This is an initiative in democratisation of knowledge and learning. Anyone can come and click on any course they want. The log in procedure is easy and frictionless,” Code For India founder and venture capitalist Karl Mehta told a press conference.
He said that the big universities, offering their entire courses on open domains, was a “massive trend” and India must take advantage of this. “It is like a virtual university. Sitting in India, you can learn exactly what is being taught in the classroom at the University of Michigan, for instance. This is the power of content combined with technology. It is about empowering those who have knowledge to give and those who want to learn,” he said.
There are no criteria for subscribing to the courses offered on SUI. Currently in its initial stages, the portal is working on collaborating with institutes such as the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhi Nagar to put up courses. In addition, individuals willing to offer any kind of knowledge can “publish a course.”
The portal is planning to set up a review committee to assess the credibility of instructors and the courses they offer, Mehta said.
In India, where internet connectivity is still poor, the possibility of SUI reaching open education to the last person seems distant. “However,” said Mehta, “with the availability of high quality content we hope will put pressure on the government to enhance the internet accessibility in the country,” he said.
So far, all the courses on SUI are in English, but Mehta said his team had volunteer engineers who could translate them in Indian languages. The SUI initiative is in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to “Skill India.”
“The possibilities with this open-source, open-content portal are endless. Institutions can donate courses, individuals can offer courses in any skill, even corporates can put their best practices,” Mehta said. ‘Skill Up India’ is the first project of the Code for India’s Gujarat Chapter, in partnership with International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology (iCREATE) and US-India Business Council, Education Foundation.