GeSci wants ideas to develop content

By : |October 31, 2005 0

BANGALORE: In September 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, world leaders agreed to a set of time bound and measurable goals and targets for combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women. Now called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it outlined a wide range of commitments in human rights, good governance and democracy.

Global e-School and Communities Initiative is a part of the Millennium Development Goals in which a key goal is universal education. UN kicked off GeSci in four developing countries, India, Ghana, Namibia and Bolivia.

In India, GeSci is working closely with the Department of Information Technology and the Ministry of Education. Aruna Sundararajan, the country programme facilitator for GeSci, shared the goals and vision of the initiative with Kavita Alexis. Excerpts:

What is the aim of Global e-school initiative in India?

According to the Millennium development goals the key agenda is to facilitate the reach of education across the country irrespective of infrastructure and other constraints. India has committed on reaching the millennium development goals by 2010. One of the key goals put forward by the India government is to impart eight years of education to all the Indian students between the age group of six and 14. It is a very ambitious plan and GeSci will be supporting this initiative. We would use IT as a tool to motivate parents and children and also to reduce school dropout rates.

What is your plan of action in India?

GeSci is a very new initiative kick started last May. In India, we will be working with both central and State governments. We have set three criteria in selecting the states to work with. Accordingly, we will be looking at States backward in education, which have a high level of need for such an initiative, States with commitment to IT, and States where there is a minimum level of e-readiness. To start with, we are planning to work with four states: Rajasthan and Maharashtra in the North and Andhra Pardesh and Karnataka in the South.

What would be the role of GeSci in transforming education in the country?

Our role will be that of a facilitator working together with the States. We will provide support in areas like content development. Educational infrastructure is slowly coming up. What we lack is ideas in developing good quality content. So we will have a major role in content selection, development, up-gradation and evaluation. We will bring the different stakeholders together (government, teacher community, scientific and research community and NGOs in the sector) and help in formulating policies and planning. We would also impart global best practices to each of these education initiatives. Yet another role is liasoning with the funding agencies in mobilizing funds for the education initiatives.

Which is the first GeSci project in India?

We have started working closely with the Rajasthan education initiative. As part of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Rajasthan has embarked on a large-scale education initiative, which introduces the concept of computer-aided learning in the outdoor playground, ignoring the traditional role of teachers.

As part of the initiative, the computer learning centres will initially be established in different districts of the state. The State Government has launched a three-year pilot project to operate the computer centres providing informal elementary education to the students. The initiative started off in Jhalawar district. This would be followed by projects in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

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