January 1, 2009 12:38:34 am
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 informed.