Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Govt set to make low cost computers

To take knowledge to every household and help students get feed on every subject while sitting home, the government is set to make available low-cost computers at USD 10 within six months.
Technology for these small devices has been developed by IISC, Bangalore and IIT Madras. “But lot of testing has to be done to enasure that the technology works properly. Once the testing is over, the computers will be made available on commercial basis. The target is to make it available in six months time,” Higher Education Secretary, Ministry of HRD, R P Agrawal said reporters in New Delhi on Thursday.
The computer will be a small equipment with expandable memory, LAN and Wi-Fi facilities. The government will also produce e-content on every subject which will be made available free of cost.
A prototype computer has been designed which is being tested now. “Its cost will be USD 10. If the parents want to gift something to their kids, they can easily purchase this item and gift them,” he said.
Students can get the e-content feed and load them in their computers and take advantage of the materials. The government will provide these computers to educational institutions at a subsidised price, Agrawal said.
The government is in the process of consultation with different agencies for production of these computers and are seeking collaboration with them. These computers can run at two WT power. “The ultimate target is to have a Virtual Technological University,” Agrawal said.
The low-cost computers are being developed under the central scheme — National Mission on Education through Information Communication Technology (ICT).
The ICT scheme envisages providing broadband connectivity to about 20,000 institutions, including 100 central educational institutions, in the country.
Institutions run by state governments and private agencies will have to bear 25 per cent of the cost for the broadband connectivity. There are about 15,000 institutions in the country which do not have any connectivity and they will get five MBPS connectivity, Agrawal said. “The purpose is that the scheme will bridge the digital divide between institutions,” he said.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has already approved the scheme which aims to use ICT in providing personalised and interactive knowledge modules to students, a step aimed at increasing enrollment rate by five per cent in higher education in the 11th Plan.
The scheme would cost Rs 4,612 crore in the 11th Plan. “About 40 per cent of the fund will be spent on developing e-content. The e-content will be provided free to the institutions and students,” he said.
About 10,000 departments of 420 universities will be benefited by the project. The scheme will be launched at Tirupati on February three.
However, this scheme will be different from National Knowledge Network (NKN) being launched by the Department of Telecommunication. The NKN will provide high capacity connectivity to premier institutions. After the ICT scheme is in place, students will get lectures offered by IIT professors online and could even get their doubts cleared.
There is a plan to start 100 educational channels beaming them through EDUSAT, Agrawal said. These channels will spread education in remote and inaccessible areas.
The government is also starting 1,000 polytechnics at a cost of Rs 6,858 crore. It has released Rs 100 crore for starting 50 such institutions in the first phase.
At present, there are about 1,250 polytechnics in the country with an intake for about 4.5 lakh students.

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