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Minister’s dream: $10-laptop for students
Published on 25 Aug. 2009 11:21 PM IST
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India’s technology institutes should work to develop low-cost laptops not costing more than $10 for students, according to Minister of State for Higher Education D Purandareswari. “It is a challenge but we have the potential and the capacity to overcome challenges. Who would have thought Ratan Tata would develop a car for Rs 1 lakh?” Purandareswari said in Hyderabad on Tuesday. The minister was addressing e-India 2009, the country’s largest information and communication technology (ICT) seminar which began on Tuesday. “We need to put our heads together to bring down the cost of laptops. Power supply is another problem. We have to think how can we ensure schools use laptops and bring technology closer to children,” she said. Purandareswari said the National Mission on Education through ICT to be launched by the ministry of human resources development would also focus on achieving technological breakthrough by developing low-cost and low-power consuming access devices. The mission will leverage the potential of ICT, in providing personalised and interactive knowledge modules over the internet for higher education institutions. “Some people have suggested that a laptop be provided to every student. The government needs to provide subsidy for laptops which cost $100-200, but given the huge challenges the country faces, it can’t afford such huge subsidies,” Purandareswari said. The minister said developing content for children in their mother tongue would be another major challenge. “It is through ICT and distance education mode that we can improve our gross enrolment ratio (to higher educational institutions) from 10 percent to 15 percent, a goal set by the Planning Commission. Even this is not comparable to developing countries where the ratio is 60 percent,” she said. Purandareswari also underlined the need to remove fear of technology among the teaching community. “Many of our teachers are first generation graduates, who are scared of failing in front of a computer in a class room. They also fear that technology will replace them and there is a need to take them into confidence,” the minister said. According to her, her ministry is working out a national ICT policy framework. The government is also in the process of implementing a secondary education scheme called Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan during the 11th plan at a cost of Rs 20,120 crore. “This aligns with efforts of the ministry of human resources development to assist states to build ICT infrastructure in secondary schools through the scheme ‘ICT in schools’,” Purandareswari added. Organised by Centre for Science Development and Media Studies, the three-day international conference and exhibition is a platform for knowledge sharing in different domains of ICT among governments, industry, academia and civil society organisations of various countries.

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