December 22, 2008 12:28:48 am
Following criticism that private parties with vested interests were helping draft the national policy for introduction of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) in schools, Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Arjun Singh is learnt to have ordered the constitution of a new ministerial committee to draft the policy and directed that in future policy formulation should not be ‘outsourced’ to private parties.
“A Joint Secretary driven ministerial committee has now been instituted to draft a national policy on ICT at schools. The committee will hold consultations with all stakeholders and a formulation of policy should be in place in another six months. This will be a new committee and the draft prepared by the other committee will not be binding on it”, said a senior official.
The ministry announced the need for a National Policy on ICT in School Education in 2007, for which it initiated a consultative process along with Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI) and CSDMS to address the needs and challenges for teaching and learning in the 21st century using technology tools.
Several educationists and NGOs were up in arms against the consultative committee, headed by NCERT joint director Vasudha Kamat, as they felt this could compromise the nature and intent of the policy, bringing in technology vendors to help frame what was essentially an educational policy.
Sources said the draft prepared by the Kamat-led committee would only be used as a reference draft at best and consultations with all stakeholders involved from states to educationists, NGOs and experts will now be carried on by the ministerial committee.
“The ministry asked GeSCI to lead the policy making process, who in turn further outsourced this task to CSDMS. Both are private organisations with no experience with the Indian public education system and its priorities. They have closely associated technology vendors such as Intel, NIIT, Microsoft, Educomp etc, large private monopolies with vested interests in the policy. These organisations have also excluded from their consultations, the large body of educationists, many of whom were an important part of the framing of the NCF 2005, a landmark curricular policy in India,” a group of educationists, led by the Bangalore-based non-profit organisation IT for Change, had written to the HRD Minister last month.
While initially the HRD ministry had claimed that there was no way private interest would override the policy’s visions and objectives as Kamat was chairing the drafting process, they changed track after the minister’s intervention.
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