Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Goodwill Gestures by IT Giants

Exactly six months back, a colleague of mine and I had a lengthy discussion at tea-time on computers being donated by industry biggies like Infosys, Wipro, etc to schools. While I was showering praise on the industry for such magnanimous steps, my colleague questioned the wisdom of this step by counter-arguing on what use would these computers serve if the schools do not have able teachers to impart computer education to the students. He went on to add, " These days every Tom, Dick and Harry who knows a little bit of HTML coding or can scratch the 'Hello World' program in Java or .NET dreams of milking the cash cow as a software programmer. How then would you expect to train and retain talent in our schools to teach the Gen-Next of the country?". It was a valid point and I had suggested then that the best way to overcome this Catch-22 situation would be to train teachers themselves, who had served in schools for a minimum period of 8-10 years. This way there would be a lower possibility of them switching careers at that late a point in their life. The next question that arose was who would teach them, give them the right up to date education. The government was a strict no-no. By the time government came up with a blue-print, decided on the syllabus and enforced the plan, the whole content would have gone past its expiry date, given the rate at which computer technologies are changing.
The discussion ended rather abruptly as we were summoned by our module lead.

Yesterday, while I was perusing the TimesOfIndia online, a brief news excerpt caught my eye. The story went as below :

CHANDIGARH: For this group of 27 teachers from various government schools learning about the use of computers in classroom has acquired a new meaning.

Undergoing a five-day training module of Intel corporation as part of the new initiative to upgrade the skills of educators dealing with children from underprivileged sections, they are learning to involve the children through a community approach.

Said Gurdip Kumar, a teacher, ‘‘I knew about the use of computers but this programme has informed me about how to relate technology with the lives of children.

..We would ask them to identify a problem affecting their lives and then involve them in
finding solutions to it through the use of the internet. A project will be done by the students who will learn about the use of technology through the process.’’

For the complete story go here.

The excerpt answered the question that had been left unanswered during our discussion. I was elated.

The press excerpt also mentions the whole exercise as a joint collaboration between IT giants like Intel and education schemes of the government like the 'Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan'. The best part was the mention of projects that would be jointly taken up by the computer trained teachers and students. These projects would be live social projects targeted at the poor and backward classes of the society.

Good will acts like these , I am sure, will go a long way in ensuring that the benefits of IT percolate to the lowest levels of the Indian social strata. What do you feel ?

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