---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Guru <guru(a)itforchange.net>
Date: Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 9:32 PM
Subject: Rs 500 crores for computers in Gujarat schools
The article in Indian Express (provided below my mail) says that the
Gujarat Government is planning a 500 crore outlay on computers in
schools. Hopefully it will consist of ICT tools that teachers and
students can use to create their own learning resources - both digital
learning material as well as software applications/enhancements. This
can be an opportunity for teacher educators, teachers and students to
create locally relevant and contextual material. The article says the
Government is indeed inclined towards FOSS (Free and Open Source
Hopefully it will also avoid spending on 'centrally created "high
quality" content or licensed/proprietary software that teachers and
students will be 'taught to use'. If we are able to get the large
technology vendors off the back of school system, it will be half the
battle won, it can then be possible for the teachers to have sometime
and resources to figure out, with support, what ICTs could mean to
them and their work. Such support of course, needs to be based on a
deep understanding of pedagogy rather than technology per se.
It may be worthwhile checking/discussing with the Gujarat Government
to share some of our views as well as our Workshop outputs with them.
I request those interested to respond or write to me off-list to take
this issue further.
PS - Microsoft offering Windows (operating system) free of cost to the
Gujarat Government is a typical Microsoft ploy - no wonder the Head of
the National IT Institute of Brazil called Microsoft a 'drug pusher'
for some unethical methods adopted by Microsoft) for this reason,
offering the initial samples at little or no cost and then benefiting
from having made the user dependent on their products. Even if the
Gujarat schools get windows free of cost (which also means Microsoft
Office is still priced), the students will learn only Microsoft
products and buy the same for their own use, which means enormous
externalised financial implications of this 'free of cost' decision...
Hence as a guardian of public interest, Government need to both adopt
and actively promote free software for the high positive societal
impact, apart from the specific costs/benefits to them from the
Rs 500 cr for computers in schools - KAMRAN SULAIMANI Posted: Jan 01,
2009 at 0038 hrs IST
Vadodara: In a unique Information Technology initiative, the Gujarat
Government will spend around Rs 500 crore to buy 1,50,000 computers,
peripherals and LCDs to equip some 20,000 primary and upper primary
schools in the state, over the next five years. The project will also
include 3D multimedia educational content software, a cyber-based
school management system to monitor school activities, besides
providing the requisite IT training to teachers across the state.
"Although we had done some technological upgradation in about 5,000
schools earlier, this will be the first massive effort of its kind,"
Gujarat IT Secretary, Raj Kumar, told Newsline.
IN 2007, the state government had tied up with Educomp for Computer
Aided Education (CAE) programmes under the Gujarat Council of Primary
Education (GCPE) in 500 schools spread over 25 districts. Educomp had
also trained around 1,500 teachers in computer literacy. Gujarat is
now taking the cue from schools in Karnataka.
The state government is inclined to go for free open source software
(FOSS) for schools. "As of now, the government has decided to go for
FOSS, which is available at almost no cost, but Microsoft too has
offered to provide their operating system free of cost. It's up to the
Education department to decide on it," Kumar added.
The project will be on the build operate transfer (BOT) model. The
state will not make the full payment upfront. "We will pay 30 per cent
and the remaining 70 per cent will be staggered over the next five
years," said Principal Secretary, Education, Hasmukh Adhia. "It's a
huge project that could change concepts of teaching and learning. We
will also get LCDs for schools capable of displaying 3D stories to
help in science subjects," added Adhia. The state will also get funds
from the Centre to upgrade IT infrastructure in secondary schools.
Not only schools, but the government has also floated tenders to
upgrade the Gujarat State Wide Area Network (GSWAN). "It has been
seven years from the day we implemented GSWAN. Technologies change
with time and we are in the process of upgrading some equipment,"
Kumar said. The state government wants network components at taluka
GSWAN nodes to integrate with the existing GSWAN infrastructure for
enhancement under the SWAN scheme of the Government of India. The
state is also improving the leased line bandwidth in all district and
taluka locations to integrate it with the existing GSWAN, it was
IT for Change
Bridging Development Realities and Technological Possibilities
*IT for Change is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with United
Nations' Economic and Social Council*
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